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 read this for my work book club. I had heard it made for good discussion, so myself and a friend at work recommended it to the group.
It is a fantastic book. It’s not exactly light-hearted, but it kind of comes across that way in the beginning. As I read it I often had that “feel good” vibe after I put it down. It’s about book lovers, and I connected with that instantly. A.J. gets to live in a book store with his family. A book store! If that isn’t a great setting for a book, then I don’t know what is. (Okay, well maybe within the book’s pages, like in Inkheart, but that might be asking for a bit too much..)
As the story progresses we see A.J. change from a bitter, depressed man to a caring father and a upstanding citizen in his community. And it is such a change to see. In the beginning of the book I really didn’t like A.J. at all. But by the time it ended I was so attached to him.
This book looks like a light little read. But it is full of heart, full of heartbreak.
My favorite parts were the tidbits where A.J. wrote mini reviews/recommendations for his daughter. I can’t say more because I do not want to give anything away. But needless to say, I added a bunch of books to my reading list!
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves books, and anyone who has ever dreamed of owning their own little book shop.
Title: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Date of Publication: 2014
Source: Personal Copy