Written By: Gabrielle Zevin
Published By: Algonquin Books April 1, 2014
Length: 272 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Island Books is a small bookstore on Alice Island, reached only by Ferry off the coast of Hyannis MA. While worn looking both outside and in. A.J. Fikry isn’t leading the life he anticipated. He is the sole proprietor of the book store. He is known to be picky and difficult and to only stock the books he feels are relevant.
A.J. is a widower, having lost his wife in a tragic car accident, he’s isolated himself from everyone. Sales in the store are suffering. He lives above the book store, sees very few people including his sister in law. When a valuable book of Edgar Allen Poe’s early works is stolen from his apartment A.J. feels like he’s reached a new low, and his health is at risk. In an effort to get some exercise he begins to run, and leaves the doors to his store unlocked, a take this attitude as he’s lost the only thing worth any real money. What A.J. finds upon his return will change his life. His attitude and will to live will change. This metamorphosis will be visible to everyone on the island, and as these changes happen A.J. also finds himself opening up his heart, as he never thought possible again.
The very synopsis of this book had me intrigued…a book about a book store and it’s owner…what’s not to love? I’m not one to be motivated by hype, it can almost scare me away, but the build up of love for this book from Indie booksellers and book store owners is phenomenal, and sincere.
The chapters move alone with titles and recommendations by A.J. himself. The references to wonderful books are spot on, the author has a vast knowledge of books and who they appeal to. These other books make the book that much sweeter, sparking the reader to add more books to their wish list of books to read. The cast of characters in this book are so believable. The police chief who loves crime books and yet is open to new genres when suggest by A.J. The publishers Rep who is offering arcs and selling the titles for next season, she’s hurt when she receives a very cold welcome on her first visit to Island Books. I was happy to see that relationship change.
While reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry I wanted to live on Alice Island and shop in Island Books and meet all the people in town. It was warm and inviting and I was sad when the book was over. This book is not just about books, it’s about life and love. The main character has nearly hit rock bottom and then his heart opens up to love again, and once that occurs his life opens up to all variations of love. You won’t want to miss this book, highly recommend! I plan to share with all my friends and I’ll be meeting the author next month and purchasing a hardcover copy to keep forever.
This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Zevin, but I will be looking at more. You can learn more about the author and her other works on her website www.gabriellezevin.com