Title: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publication Date: April 2014
Number of Pages: 258
How I Got It: SheReads April Selection
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.
I first heard about this book from Ariel Lawhon. She was absolutely raving about it to me and everyone else at a recent author event. She said she read the entire book on a flight and that every book lover will love it. She was right! First of all, let's just say that the main character A.J. Fikry owns (and lives above) a book store on a sleepy island! Is this not every book lover's dream? Each chapter is introduced with a short suggestion of what A.J. believes another character should read and why. Multiple authors and novels are interspersed throughout the book and A.J. provides his very intense opinions of them as well as his thoughts on short stories, memoirs, and author parties. This book depicts the feelings I have about a book's effect on a reader due to time and place. A story you may have read and hated years ago, you may love when you revisit it (or vice versa.) You may re-read a novel and take away an entirely different "lesson" or story line than you did during a previous read. Our personal interpretations of the works we read is dependent upon where we are in our own life journeys. A single book can mean one thing to you at one point in your life and mean something else another time. Isn't that magical? That the story itself didn't change, but you as a reader changed? And that unchanging text can cause such personal introspection? That amazing aspect of a book is just one of many reasons I call myself a book lover. If you call yourself one too, then do NOT miss reading this great story.
** I received this book in exchange for an honest review **