The Storied Life of AJ Fikry Book Review

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry Book Cover The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Gabrielle Zevin


At a Glance

A.J. Fikry is the grumpy owner of Island Books, a bookstore on Alice Island near Massachusetts. Things are not going well for him as of late. His wife died recently in a car accident. The sales at his book store have plummeted. A very rare and valuable edition of Tamerlane by Edgar Allen Poe was stolen from his apartment. And, as a result of all of these misfortunes, A.J. has fallen into a deep depression. One day, he receives an unexpected and special delivery to the store - an abandoned baby named Maya. How A.J. reacts to this new guest, and uses this incident to turn his life around is the crux of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.

My Review

Being a recent transplant to Philadelphia, I wanted to start a book club at my new job as a way to get to know my new coworkers and push myself to keep reading regularly. I talked to a few of my coworkers about the idea and when I got an overwhelmingly positive response, I decided to go forward with the book club. For our first book, I wanted to pick something that could appeal to a broad audience, wasn’t too long, and obviously had good reviews. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry fit all of these criteria. I had been hearing a lot of praise for this book, but the main reason I picked it was because of this line from the description on Amazon:

Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books–an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.”

What a great choice for my first work book club – a book that reflects on why reading is so enjoyable! And after reading it, I have to say that it lived up to the reviews!

When I began reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, I thought the main plot would be trying to figure out who stole A.J.’s copy of Tamerlane. And while that mystery weaves in and out of the story, that plot-line becomes less important as you began to get to know the various characters. There’s Maya, Amelia, Ismay and Chief Lambiase, and they’re all wonderful people who play an important part in A.J.’s rebuilding of his life. They all, in turn, are in some way touched by Island Books. Witnessing the transformation of each of these characters was the best part of the book. I loved reading about how Lambiase’s interest in reading grew, and how Maya’s lifelong love of reading translated into her desire to be a writer. Most of all, I loved seeing how A.J. came out of isolation and allowed himself to build a group of friends and family members.

I gave it 4 stars of out 5, simply because there were times that I wanted more. At times, I felt like Zevin needed to keep the book under a certain number of pages, so she just quickly summarized what were, in my mind, really major events in the plot.; e.g. the adoption process of Maya or A.J.’s wedding. It would have been nice to get more details there.

Otherwise, I have no complaints. I loved reading A.J.’s little book summaries at the beginning of each chapter. I loved that it was about a small-town bookstore that succeeded. And, I loved that it was a lesson in how books can bring people together. It shows the positive affect a love of reading can have on a person, at any age. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a perfect beach read, or just something to curl up with when you want a comforting, quick story to transport you to another world.

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