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


General FictionThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle ZevinThe Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
Gabrielle Zevin; Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 2014

Gabrielle Zevin pays homage to books and bibliophiles in her short The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. It’s a poignant tale of personal loss, redemption, and strength. The chapters start with book quotes and notes from A.J. to the people in his life.

A.J. Fikry is a recent widower who owns a small bookstore on a New England island. Island Books is the only bookstore on the island, but A.J. doesn’t care too much. It does well enough over the summer when tourists are visiting, but the store doesn’t appeal to the locals. A.J. usually stocks the literature he likes despite popular tastes. A.J. is too busy becoming a despondent alcoholic to care overly much that the store is now failing.

But after a theft of the only rare book he owned, A.J. starts running again. He returns from a run to his bookstore to discover a two-year-old girl alone in the back of the deserted store. There’s a note with Maya. Her mother left her in the bookstore because she wants her daughter to grow up around books. The mother’s body washes up on the shore a couple days later.

Maya is the turning point for A.J. He doesn’t want the adorable little girl to end up in the foster system. He applies for and is able to adopt Maya. He starts to get more local customers as they come to visit the little girl. A.J. has come beyond his depression and learns to stock more books that people request. He finally starts adding children’s books. Some of the local mothers start a book club. Then the police chief, Maya’s godfather, starts a mystery and suspense book club. Island Books grows into a local gathering place.

When Amelia first tries to sell her publisher’s books to Island Books, A.J. rebuffs her and is quite rude. But finally he reads the first book she had pushed on him. He discovers he likes the book. He contacts Amelia to admit she was right. He discovers he needs to talk to her more. He starts ordering more books from her publisher, arranging her visits to the store.Soon A.J. is surrounded by his beloved books and the women who are special to him.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a feel-good book that is enjoyable enough. The story flows quietly, never totally catching the reader up, yet keeping the reader’s attention. It is a love story, but not a romance. There is heartbreak and redemption. Zevin’s  uses connections in this novel with the immediate people (A.J., Amelia, and Maya), the friends and extended family, and the books. There is a quiet core that is solid.

Escape and appreciate the sentimental The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.

Link to Books

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *