Monday, May 19, 2014

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

Gabrielle Zevin

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. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or 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. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
When we first meet A.J. Fikry, he is quite the curmudgeon. His wife has unexpectedly died and he is slowly drowning his sorrows in alcohol. All of this changes when something is mysteriously left for him to take care of.

When this book had me laughing out loud by page two, I knew I was in for something good. And while the humor was present throughout the whole book, it offered so much more than that. It was thought provoking and on a few occasions sad. I just loved seeing the change in A.J.’s personality as he slowly opened his life back up to the possibilities of happiness.

Each chapter is prefaced with a brief note from A.J. on a book recommendation to someone special in his life and why he is suggesting the person read them. I ended up adding several of these to my TBR list!

Thank you Ms. Zevin for this absolutely delightful and uplifting novel.

And thanks to Algonquin Books, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for and unbiased review.

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