Friday, March 20, 2015

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (Review by AmberBug)

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Gabrielle Zevin

Published 2014

First Sentence
"On the ferry from Hyannis to
Alice Island, Amelia Loman paints her nails yellow and, while waiting for them to dry, skims her predecessor's notes."

Publisher's Description:

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.

Dear Reader,

How adorable is this book? I want to pick it up and snuggle it to death! This is the perfect book to read in a cozy chair in the library or by a nice warm fire in the winter, absolutely PERFECT book for that. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (TSLOAJF?) has all those romantic touches for a book lover, such a great lovable/snuggable book. Every literary reference has you petting the spine, each quirky character has you inhaling the dusty/glue filled scent wafting from the book... each chapter you fall deeper into the pages and into love. Ah shucks, you get the point. Anybody who loves books MUST read this... let me repeat... MUST read this. I think the perfect word for TSLOAJF is cozy.

Should I even go into what the book is about? I guess I'll give you some keywords; bookstore, piles of books, orphan, remote island, small community, love, vintage clothes, wait... did I mention piles of books? A.J. Fikry is a cantankerous book snob with an underlying soft heart, he owns the local bookstore on a remote touristy island. He meets a new sales rep for one of the publishers, Amelia, who represents everything A.J. is not... tolerant, lovable, and sociable. Next, enter baby Maya, left on the doorstep of the bookstore/home of A.J. Fikry with a note. The plot is a little wacky, but the love is in all the little details. I'm not the romance type, but this passage made me swoon a little:
“All I can say is . . . All I can say is we’ll figure it out, I swear. When I read a book, I want you to be reading it at the same time. I want to know what would Amelia think of it. I want you to be mine. I can promise you books and conversation and all my heart, Amy.” 
Ahhhhh, I would probably lose my breath if a man said that to me.

Enough will all my blah, blah, blah... I've said my peace. Meh, once more with feeling! READ this book if going into a bookstore will rob your wallet, READ this book if you think libraries are heaven on earth, READ this book if you can't get enough cheesy biblio jokes, READ this book if you like to smell books (why do we do this??), READ this if you have a "to-read" list that gives you panic attacks, and finally READ this if you think books have a heartbeat. Yeah, I do too.

Happy Reading,

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

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  1. Yay, I loved this book too! It was probably one of the only books I read last year that actually lived up to hype. I really got a kick out of the book/bookish references and to see how A.J. gradually softens as he welcomes more and more people into his life. Have you read anything else by Gabrielle Zevin?

  2. I haven't, have you? She came onto my radar only because of the fame from this book. I'll be on the lookout in the future for her now.


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