Monday, April 7, 2014

Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry was the blog network pick for the month of April. I must admit, since joining the She Reads network, every pick has been a winner and this one is no exception. Pick it up and see for yourself!

Synopsis from Amazon:
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 Chief Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward him; from Ismay, his sister-in-law, who is hell-bent on saving A.J. from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who persists in taking the ferry 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, he 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, though large in weight--an unexpected arrival that gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J., for the determined sales rep Amelia to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light, for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world. Or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming.

My review:
A.J. is a character who wakes up each day and busies himself with his job but doesn't have much of a life outside of the bookstore.  Right from the start of the story, the reader is drawn into his life and wants more for him.  Wants him to realize that it is possible to love again, to start over. Amelia hasn't had a lot of luck in the relationship department either, is kind of eccentric in her style of dress, and at 31 years old, hasn't yet found true love. When these two first meet, it is a less than pleasant but I knew that they would meet again, I could just feel that it would happen and I was glad it did.  Chief Lambaise, Ismay, Daniel, and all of the other characters in the town of Alice are in need of a good dose of hope and inspiration. That something comes in the form of a small child who brings these characters closer to one another, filling in the empty spaces and rekindling hope and possibility.

Maya takes over the story from the moment she enters it.  She is enchanting.  I especially loved her dialogue and the unique way she spoke.  I could hear her little voice in my head.  She immediately attracts the residents of Alice to the bookstore and almost forces A.J. to begin socializing again.  It was a win-win situation.  Maya gives A.J. the push he needs to re-enter the world and he gives her a father to love and raise her as his own.  They are each other's second chance.

One of my favorite places is a bookstore.  Even though I don't buy paper books anymore, there is nothing like the feeling you get when you are browsing the shelves in the local bookshop.  The setting of this story was beautiful.  A small bookshop in a town on an island you can only get to by ferry.  Somewhere any book lover would want to live.

It is impossible to describe this book with just one word. There are too many that come to mind.  Inspiring, original, uplifting, bittersweet.  I felt a range of emotions as I read the story.  Gabrielle Zevin is definitely a writer whose books I will be picking up again.


1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you had such a positive response to this book. I really loved it -- and I agree with your word choices: inspiring, original, uplifting, bittersweet! This is a book that I'll be passing along to the people I love who love books too!