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

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry Gabrielle ZevinThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: December 2, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Adult Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Source: Gift
4/5 Stars

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A.J. Fikry owns a failing bookshop. His wife has just died, in tragic circumstances. His rare and valuable first edition has been stolen. His life is a wreck. Amelia is a book rep, with a big heart, and a lonely life. Maya is the baby who ends up on AJ’s bookshop floor with a note. What happens in the bookshop that changes the lives of these seemingly normal but extraordinary characters? This is the story of how unexpected love can rescue you and bring you back to real life, in a world that you won’t want to leave, with characters that you will come to love.

My Review

Whenever a friend gives me a book they loved, I’m both excited and nervous. Excited because, ‘YAY! New book!’ Nervous because, ‘What if I don’t like it? I don’t want to have to tell them I didn’t like it.” Thankfully that didn’t happen this time. I received this book from my roommate for Christmas. It is one I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own, but I definitely would have been missing out.

“We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone.”

It’s the touching and poignant story of A.J. Fikry and the people in his life to whom he is closest. He is in a difficult place when we meet him. His wife having died less than two years prior, he isn’t really living, just trying to make it day to day. One of those days, a toddler is abandoned in A.J.’s bookstore, and that is the turning point for him. How he decides to handle the situation, alters his life and those around him.

“It is the secret fear that we are unlovable that isolates us, […] but it is only because we are isolated that we think we are unlovable.”

The story moved quickly, which actually might be the one thing I didn’t like. Sometimes I felt as if I was being rushed through the book. Zevin didn’t spend as much time on certain points as I would have liked. I had a hard time figuring out how much time had passed. I tried to use the child’s age as a gauge, but it wasn’t always clear how old she was. I was left wanting more of the story.

“Someday, you may think of marrying. Pick someone who thinks you’re the only person in the room.”

There were parts that made me laugh, cry, and smile. If you love books, bookstores, good stories, and good people, then give this book a try.

“We aren’t the things we collect, acquire, read. We are, for as long as we are here, only love. The things we loved. The people we loved. And these, I think these really do live on.”


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