The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry : A Novel
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 immediately reached out to my best friend and book guru to recommend it to her. She replied that she had not only heard of the book but she has read it 5 times. I cannot think of a more resounding praise for a book than to have someone I trust read it again and again. This is the type of book you are hooked on from the beginning and do not put down until finished. Because of reasons I will get into later, I am definitely going to reread this book again, sometime soon.
In the beginning chapters of the book, I was pulled in by the aesthetic by which the author uses to describe the loss and pain that A. J. feels. Not only the story but the way things are explained highlights how this man is lonely and has mostly given up on life. A. J.’s particular way of expressing him thoughts lends itself to understanding the pain that he is in. Later in the book, when times are better for A. J., the aesthetic stays consistent as the book shows that even happiness does not erase past hurt, but time does heal. The emotional landscape of this book was 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 quite a long time. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is aware of common literary tropes and uses them with exacting measure. The author, Gabrielle Zevin, 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 all measures, this is a very good novel.
Book Club Question
Was Ismay right in her actions that led to A. J.’s life changing?
This and all my posts may contain affiliate links! – Kate <3