5 Stars, Books, Fiction, Reviews

Book Review: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

“What in life is more personal than books?” -Gabreille Zevin

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a stunningly written piece by Gabrielle Zevin, it’s a love letter to all the books ad readers. It displays a great example of the fact that a reader’s life is closely melded together with written words in the form of books.

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

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 Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over 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, A.J. 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, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew.

This tale of books and book-lovers offers an unforgettable journey that will stay with every reader who reads it for a long time. Maybe, forever. The steadily moving plot with well-formed characters that are portrayed cleverly and the dazzling effect of Zevin’s writing are the main ingredients. The main character’s love, passion, and respect for the written word is an integral part of the story because it’s the background, the setting, and the reason to read on. I loved how each chapter began with a different book title followed by A. J.’s short elucidations relating to the story.

To sum it up, I’ll use Gabrielle Zevin’s words:

“Every word the right one and exactly where it should be. That’s basically the highest compliment I can give…”

5 out of 5! Recommended.


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