The Storied Life of AJ Fikry Review

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry 

By: Gabriel Zevin


I have been buddy reading this with my friend Amanda from Sweden and I finished it yesterday, and thought you guys would enjoy hearing about the wonderful book about books...

Plot: "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."(Goodreads)

  • A.J- The man who owns the bookshop and the main protagonist in this story. He is a very unlikeable character at the beginning with a bad sense of humor and a disdain for any novel that is not classified as literary fiction. His persnickety outlook on life makes him all the more remarkable as the story moves along, with events such as "finding" a child left in his bookshop, change him for the better. AJ while intriguing was not the most fleshed out character and I felt that he was lacking some key aspects for me to connect.
  • Amelia- A sales rep. from the company Knightly Books, she first meets AJ on a trip to the store to sell the catalog of winter releases. However their first meeting did not go as planned because AJ's wife Nic had recently died and he was mad at the world for her death. Amelia helps to pull AJ out of seclusion and into the community again, this alone is an amazing feat. Amelia has a greater arc in her development than AJ however there still is something missing.
  • Maya- AJ's adopted daughter, extremely smart and innocent. She is the one this book is written for, recommending all of these books for her to read and grow well rounded. Maya again was missing something to change my view of the story, however she added some great comic relief to the story!
  • Uniquely YA in style: Meaning that it is very assessable for those who have difficulty reading more literary works.
  • Portrays the short stories as the central works and the characters are the supporting acts... I thought this was brilliant!
  1. Books influence our lives in many ways, and if we open our minds we can determine a lot about those around us just by what they read.
  2. Read what you love, but don't be afraid to step outside your preferred genre.
  3. Open up to those who come into your life, you never know where it may lead to...

  • "We have to look inside many. We have to believe. We agree to be disappointed sometimes so that we can be exhilarated every now and again"(Zevin, 137)
    • In this Quote AJ is speaking of the power of the written word and books to Maya and this line spoke to me as something that rings true for me in my reading life, never give up there will be ups and downs but the highs beat the lows.
Rating: ****/*****
4/5 stars- This book is good, it is just not something that I believe was living up completely to the hype however i did enjoy it a lot it lacked the sparkle to attain a perfect score!


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