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

SYNOPSIS: 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.

GENRE: Fiction, Contemporary

FAVORITE QUOTE: "When I read a book, I want you to be reading it at the same time."

RATING: 3/5 sentimental stars.

REVIEW: A lovingly written, if a bit short, story. And perhaps that was the point, considering the title character's love of short stories. This tale was told in snapshots of A.J. Fikty's life, as well as those playing a part in his life. Seemingly simple moments with poignant overtones that skipped along his "storied" but staid journey.

I, like most avid bookreaders I assume, am in immediate love and kinship with any character that has a bookish life, in this case a bookstore owner. It's a delight to here titles, authors, and shop talk. It's like confetti and glitter sprinkled throughout the pages. It added sparkle to the sweet moments and a touch of drama to the larger plot points. I sometimes wonder if these literary sprinkles create a bit of the "cheerleader effect" in books though...

CHEERLEADER EFFECT: also known as the group attractiveness effect, is the cognitive bias which causes people to think individuals are more attractive when they are in a group. (wikipedia) therefore, I wonder if we are blinded to some of the shortcomings of a novel because of this bookish cheerleader effect. Hmmmm, I think I will need to continue my pondering and revisit this topic after more research.

Back to A.J. Fikry!

I did enjoy this book, but I didn't love it. The uniqueness of having these short moments in Fikry's life also kept me too removed from the story. It was sweet, but I think I needed more. I liked all the characters and how they fit into his life, but I wanted to explore more of their lives, everyone's lives. The author created such compelling and interesting characters, but these snapshot days did them all an injustice. I wanted more.

Fikry's growth through the book was complete however, but once again I found his transformation too quick. While it was sweet, I definitely expected a bigger adjustment period at the beginning of the book.

Still, it was a good story, and I can definitely see other readers placing it in higher esteem. So I do recommend the book. I hope you enjoy it!

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