The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Rating – 5 out of 5
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin starts with some bad luck. A. J. Fikry, a widower loses a precious object then gains an equally precious child. As time goes on A. J.’s life begins to open back up as he continues to be the only bookseller on Alice Island. Having been given a second chance, A. J. makes the most of it while raising his adopted daughter and finding love.
“‘If we’re going to have this book group,’ Margene says, ‘we may as well have some variety.’
‘This is a book group?’ A.J. says.
‘Isn’t it?’ Margene says, ‘You didn’t think all this childrearing advice came for free, did you?’
In April, The Paris Wife. In June, A Reliable Wife. In August, American Wife. In September, The Time Traveler’s Wife. In December, he runs out of decent books with wife in the title. They read Bel Canto.“
– The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, Pg. 71
Why I liked The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
When I finished this book I reached out to my best friend and book guru to recommend it. She replied that not only had she heard of the book but loved it. In fact she had read it 5 times. I cannot think of a more resounding praise for a book than to have someone I trust has read it again and again.
In the beginning of the book, I was pulled in by the aesthetic with which the author describes the loss and pain that A. J. feels. Every word chosen highlights how he is lonely and has given up on life. A. J.’s particular way of expressing his thoughts lends itself to understanding the pain that he is in. The aesthetic stays consistent as the book shows that even happiness does not erase past hurt, but time does heal. This in particular makes emotional landscape of this book rich and realistic.
This is more than just a good story, it is also one of the best constructed pieces of literature I have read in a long time. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is aware of common literary tropes and uses them with exacting measure. The author is a master of using a literary device then, once finished, pointing out what she has done in the cleverest of ways. I would expect nothing less of a novel written about a bookseller, yet I appreciate the grace by which it is done. The foreshadowing, in particular, is perfection. That is why I will be reading it again soon, so I can move through the story again, knowing what I know now. A good novel will do that to you, and by every measure, this is a very good novel.
Book Club Question
Was Ismay right in her actions that led to A. J.’s life changing?
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