Friday, January 15, 2016

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin (Book Review)

This book was on my library's monthly book club list and I couldn't resist.  The story follows A. J. Fikry who is a bookstore owner on a small island called Alice Island.  A.J. and his wife bought the bookstore when they first got married.  A.J.'s wife passed away in a car accident when she was driving an author back from an event at their store to the ferry.  A.J. lives above the bookstore in a small apartment by himself with his most prized possession a copy of Edgar Allen Poe's collection. One morning he wakes up after drinking to find the poems stolen.  He reports it to the police station who said they will look into it.  

A.J. gets another surprise after the poems go missing a baby shows up in his store with a note from the mother that she wanted her daughter to be raised around books.  From this point forward A.J.'s life begins to change. A.J. takes a liking to the littler girl and eventually adopts her as his own.  The girls name is Maya and she begins to grow up in and around books.  A.J. also meets a publisher representative named Amelia who he can't keep his mind off of.  

The story follows a grieving man who is going through the loss of a wife.  At first A.J. seems very introverted since he didn't have many friends and stopped hosting events at the bookstore.  He was in mourning.  Maya's presence in his life gives him an immediate change.  He starts to open up to his sister-in-law and also the cop who he met at his wife's death, as well as when the book was stolen.   A.J.'s character really begins to develop once Maya is in his life.  He seems to be learning again the importance of life and living.

This is a quick read to me and more of a take your mind off of what is going on in your life.  The book doesn't go into great emotional details since A.J. does not come off as a particularly emotional person.  It does deal with loss, but it didn't come off as a sad loss to me more of happy memories coming together.  That after a tragedy strikes that happiness can eventually comes around again.  A.J. becomes part of a new family during the story.

The characters each have their own personality that shine through the writing.  There are a large amount of book references that if you are a heavy reader will most likely get, but I am not that well read in some older books so some I could only use the details he references to infer exactly what he was talking about.  I don't think this really effected the story I was able to understand what was going on.

I think this would be a great vacation read as it is a story of overcoming a loss and living a fulfilling life.  Also, it was a great nighttime read after a long day of work, it didn't focus to hard on heavy issues so it was an easy read. 

"We agree to be disappointed sometimes so that we can be exhilarated every now and again."

My Rating 4/5
Author website
Publisher Algonquin Books
ISBN 9781616204518
Length 258
Format Paperback


  1. There were many great quotes in this fun story. Our book club read it last year.

    1. I completely agree there were a lot of great quotes in this book!


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