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December 29, 2015

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied LifeThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

By: Gabrielle Zevin

Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a quirky little novel with a big heart.  Of course, it is also a book for booklovers.  At the novel’s center is eccentric bookseller A.J. Fikry and his store, Island Books.  At the start of the novel, A.J. Fikry is a widower wallowing in grief for his pregnant wife tragically killed in an automobile accident.   During this time, the Knightley Press Rep walks into his store.  He berates her and sends her on her way.  However, an unlikely friendship develops and deepens into something more.  In the meantime, a child is abandoned in his store with a note leaving her for him to raise.  Unsure what to do, A.J. adopts the child which forces him to deal with his loss.

The story is filled with characters making connections and forming unlikely bonds of friendship and love.  For example, Police Chief Lambiase meets A. J. Fikry while he is still grief stricken and has had a priceless book stolen from his store.  A.J. is distraught and irrational.  Worried for A.J., Lambiase, who is not much of a reader, makes a habit of stopping in Island Books to see how A.J. is doing.    A.J. recommends novels for Lambiase starting with police procedurals and gradually growing into more literary novels and Lambiase becomes an avid reader.  Eventually, Lambiase starts a book club for police officers at the store.  These types of situations fill the novel and leave the reader with the wish that our own communities were filled with such interwoven connections.

This novel is a book about rebuilding broken lives.  The characters have all suffered losses and found a way out of their grief to find happiness again.  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is full of hope and opportunity.  It brings to us the idea that no matter our past, there exists the possibility of a happy ending for all of us.

Review By: Heidi Herald