Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

If a reader is lucky, once or twice a year a book comes along that truly touches the heart. Gabrielle Zevin's The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry might be one of those books this year for a number of us. A bookstore, discussion of books, a changed life, a child and romance. It's all wrapped up in a story that, despite tears, has a perfect ending.

Amelia Loman's first visit to Alice Island and Island Books couldn't have been called a success. The publisher's rep had to break the bad news to A.J. Fikry, a very eccentric bookstore owner with unusual taste in books, that the previous publisher's rep had died. But, she did leave behind a book she loved, even though Fikry wasn't interested. He was already on the way to disaster. He was drinking too much, and, one night, lost the most valuable book he possessed. His actions in failing to lock up cost him dearly, but also changed his life. The curmudgeon was forced to call the police, bringing Chief Lambiase into his life. And, then, because he had nothing to lose, he continued to leave the bookstore unlocked, only to find a two-year-old left there one day. Maya had been left by her mother whose note said, "I want her to grow up to be a reader. I want her to grow up in a place with books and among people who care about those kinds of things." With A.J. Fikry?

I can't spoil the book by revealing more. But book lovers will appreciate the discussions of books, including Fikry's idiosyncratic opinions of books which open each chapter. There's humor in the growing popularity of the bookstore and book clubs, almost in spite of A.J. Fikry. The characters are wonderful. As much as I loved Fikry, Maya, and Amelia, it was Lambiase that won my heart. And, the relationships are old-fashioned, and perfect for this book, just as the ending is quiet, and perfect.

Gabrielle Zevin's The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a love letter to bookstores, a story about possibilities, and a story about being open to life. It might be A.J. Fikry's life story, but it's so much more. If you love books and bookstores, this book just might be one of those treasures that touches you this year.

Gabrielle Zevin's website is www.gabriellezevin.com

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. Algonquin Books. 2014. ISBN 9781616203214 (hardcover), 272p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - A friend lent me a copy of the book.

13 comments:

Beth Hoffman said...

I just started reading this book late last night, and I can see why you loved it! Terrific review, Lesa.

Happy weekend!

Lesa said...

Happy weekend, Beth! I think you're going to love this book, too.

Margie Bunting said...

I have it on hold at the library, and after hearing your review and many others, I'm excited to read it!

Libby Dodd said...

This sounds quite interesting. i love the idea of leaving a child at a bookstore so she will grow up a reader. (It begs the question, of course--why couldn't mom inculcate that love?)

Kaye Barley said...

On my iPad!!

Lesa, have you read "A Snicker of Magic?" If not, please add it to your list.

xxoo

Deborah White said...

"If you love books and bookstores, this book just might be one of those treasures that touches you this year." Count me in!!!

Lesa said...

I can't wait for all of you to read it! And, Libby? That question is answered in the book, but I can't tell you. Haven't read "A Snicker of Magic", Kaye. Thank you for the recommendation!

Bev said...

I got this book from book reporter.com. I absolutely loved it. It's the best book I ve read this year.

Lesa said...

Bev,

I'm so happy to hear you loved it as much as I did! Wonderful book, isn't it?

Sallyb said...

Oh, Lesa, read this book this weekend and can't stop thinking about it. Just loved it. And yes, the chief was my favorite character too.

Kaye Barley said...

oh Lesa. I loved A.J. Fikry. I hated for it to end.

Lesa said...

Sally, I'm so glad to hear you liked it as well as I did!

Lesa said...

Great, Kaye! I'm so pleased you don't feel as if I steered you wrong.