I happened upon this book at the library one afternoon. I stopped in to pick up a couple of requests that were waiting for me, and this book caught my eye as I breezed past the New Reads section. The cover was intriguing with a silhouette of books and a baby in a basket. The title was also intriguing…The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. Clearly, books played an important role in this story. I went to check the book out only to have the librarian look at the cover and say to me, “This was interesting. It was different. I enjoyed it.” Interesting, different, and enjoyable…I was hooked already! I started reading the book the following day and couldn’t put it down. I finished it in two days, and yes, I also found it to be interesting, different, and enjoyable.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is about…you guessed it…a man named A.J. Fikry. He is introduced as a rather cranky man, but we quickly learn that that is because he is a widower at much too young an age. He owns a struggling independent bookstore on Alice Island, and one day a surprise is left at his store that changes his life. I don’t want to go into too many details because the surprise really was quite a surprise as was his reaction to it. A.J. Fikry’s entire life changes in one night and we get to go along for the ride, reading his insights about books and life and how the two are inextricably linked.
This book has a little bit of everything – mystery, sadness, comedy, and romance. Each chapter opens with commentary on a different book in the form of a letter written by A.J. The plot kept me interested (did I mention I finished it in two days?) and the characters were very well written. I could picture them in my mind and hear A.J.’s cranky voice in the beginning that took on a much gentler tone throughout the book. I found the writing style to be very similar to that of Mitch Albom, so if you are a fan of Albom’s books, I recommend that you pick up Ms. Zevin’s book. I was not disappointed and have recommended this book to friends and family and added it to my permanent bookshelf so that I can read it again. I know I’ll want to visit Alice Island and pay Mr. Fikry a visit again someday.
One of my favorite lines from the book: “We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone.” – Gabrielle Zevin The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry