The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
- © 2014
- 258 pages
- Includes a reader discussion section at the end (would be great for a book club)
- Personal Rating: 4/5 stars
This book popped up as suggested reading by Amazon for people who also bought A Man Called Ove (you can read my review here). Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have come across this book any other way, because I have a ton of fiction books on my “needs to be read” shelves at home. So, even though I wasn’t really looking for it, I was glad that it found me.
A.J. Fikry is a cranky, depressed, widower, and book store owner in the small town of Alice Island, MA. He and his late wife used to run the store together but now, after his loss, things are not looking to great. His store is falling more and more behind because of the lack of tourist in the off seasons and probably a little because of AJ’s very limited taste in what makes a good novel. AJ is not big on stocking what the newest publishing rep has to offer him and after their meeting, dismisses her rather rudely. AJ knows what’s good and what isn’t, but the two things are very different from what sells and what doesn’t.
He does have an ace up his sleeve though. His very rare copy of an early E.A. Poe book, called Tamerlane, could solve all his problems. Unfortunately, it goes missing sometime during a drunken laps in AJ’s evening and what he finds in his store the next day turns his whole world upside down. As you read the book, you will follow AJ throughout the next 15 or so years of his life and it will amazingly enough come back full circle in an “everything happens for a reason” kind of way.
At first, I wasn’t too sure if I was going to enjoy this book or not. I thought it was going to get too deep into AJ’s views of classic literature and writing. You know the books that you were forced to read in high school or college? Well, I was that kid that never liked to read when I was in school. From having a hard time with reading and spelling in grade school to feeling forced to read things that didn’t interest me in high school and college. So to read a book about this type of literature scared me a little. (On a side note, it’s kind of ironic that now I love reading and blogging about the wonderful treasures I have found. Not to mention I have three plus book shelves in my “wo-man cave”, filled with the novels I’ve loved and ones that I still need to discover.) Sorry, back to the book!
There were references to many classics at the beginning of each chapter; some I had heard of and some that I hadn’t, but it never interfered with the story, instead just showed the deep love of literature that AJ possessed and was very opinionated about. It was a very easy read and had all the elements of a love story, mystery, coming of age and a time of loss, all wrapped up into one. I would compare it to many of Nicholas Sparks novels, just shorter. I would recommend reading it but it wasn’t anything too life changing either. Just a good, clean, fun type of read.