We are not quite short stories.
In the end, we are collected works.
About this book: 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.
About the author: (excerpted from the author’s website) Of all her books, Gabrielle Zevin is probably best known for the young adult novel Elsewhere, which has been translated into over 20 languages. She is also the screenwriter of Conversations with Other Women (Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Eckhart) for which she received an Independent Spirit Award Nomination. She has also written for the New York Times Book Review and NPR’s All Things Considered. Zevin is a graduate of Harvard University. After many years on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, she recently moved to Silver Lake, Los Angeles.
Would I read this book, judged on its cover alone? No, although I will say it captures the feel of the book.
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG-13 for occasional profanity and some sensuality (not graphic)
Reminds me of… The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
You’ll want to buy this book if … you love the world of books and booksellers.
Why did I read this book? As a She Reads blogger. Read what other reviewers are saying here.
Would I read another by this author? If someone told me I should, yes.
My take: I don’t think I’ve ever been at a greater loss in trying to describe a novel. Parts of it read like a memoir, others like a chick-lit novel, yet others a mystery. Everything about it is quirky, whimsical and outside-the-box. By far it is the most off-center She Reads book club pick to date.
Did I like it? I did–more so as I got into it. It was a quick read, which I swallowed in several large gulps over the span of a single weekend. Would I recommend it? Well, yes. But I might be a bit harder pressed to guarantee that you will like it too.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is ultimately a novel about people connecting with people connecting with books. If you’re reading this blog, then you’re probably someone who likes making those kinds of connections (unless you’re my mother, who mostly just likes me 🙂 ). I would say then that if you’re looking for something altogether fresh and a little eccentric, you might find this one to be just the ticket.
Thanks to Algonquin Books for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
Be sure to swing by She Reads this week for your chance to pick up a copy of the book.