About the Book:
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.
Coming soon to a theater near you is the film version of a lovely book by Gabrielle Zevin. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a love story. It’s about the love of books and reading. It’s about the love of a partner. It’s about the love of a parent and of a child.
Widowed A.J. Fikry a quiet bookstore owner has become reclusive, and is slowly drinking himself to death. When a rare and very valuable item is stolen from the apartment above his store, he is frantic and thinks his plans for the future are dashed. Little does he know that this catastrophe will change his life for the better.
I loved all the literary references; book titles are even used as the titles for chapters! The characters are engaging. The lead character A.J. Fikry starts as sympathetic and becomes compelling. I only had issue with one character; I found Fikry’s young charge to be ridiculously precocious, but other friends and family are delightful additions to the story. I especially liked the local police officer, Lambiase.
The plot is character driven, so the pace is leisurely. There are a couple trite plot points, but if you’re a lover of books about books, small towns, and touching endings, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is for you. I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook, and I’m looking forward to watching the movie adaptation as well.
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