>> Friday, May 23, 2014
The Storied Life of A.J.Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: 2014
Source: Copy provided by the publisher
The Short Version:
A.J. Fickry is a widowed, curmudgeonly bookshop owner on a small Martha’s Vineyard-ish island who has his life and a few other lives changed in remarkable and lovely ways.
Why I Read It:
When my friend, The Surly Bookseller talks about a book the way she did this one I know I need to read it.
From the publisher:
A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.
And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over,
There’s actually a little more to the publisher’s synopsis but that’s all you need to know.
Well, that and the fact that as soon as I finished this book I knew I’d be reading it again just so I could focus and highlight again all the small moments and phrases that spoke to my booklover’s heart.
This is just a lovely book. It’s got humor, sadness, joy and pain. It is utterly charming without being saccharine. I liked A.J despite his grumpiness. Amelia was just this side of too earnest at the beginning but I grew to love her. There is a hilarious scene early on when A.J. is telling her all his reason for not ordering various types of books.
Interspersed in between chapters are A.J’s notes about different books and stories and they are fun references to various classics and other books that often land on those “Books You Need to Read” lists.
As the book continued and some of the secondary characters became more important I found myself resenting the fact that I had to go to work instead of just sitting down and reading until I finished the book.
One of my favorite parts was when A.J and the Police Chief were discussing plans for a party”
“So it’s basically like a book party.”
“Yeah, sure.” Lambiase has never been to a book party.
“I hate book parties.” A.J. says.
“But you run the bookstore.” Lambaise says.
“It’s a problem.” A.J admits.
I fell in love with this book and it’s one I’ll be reading again. You should give it a try.