“The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry”, by Gabrielle Zevin

“The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” is a sweet, funny story about one man’s redemption through books and unexpected relationships.

When we meet him, A.J. Fikry is a 39-year-old bookstore owner who is in a deep funk following his wife’s death. A transplant to the island where he lives, he has very few friends and has lost interest in his business and his beloved books. Then, through a random series of events, he adopts a little girl who cracks open his heart and allows him to find love, friendship and fulfillment again.

I enjoyed this book. Ms. Zevin peppers her story with amusing lines like, “A.J. has never changed a diaper in his life, though he is a modestly skilled gift wrapper.” She also creates characters who clearly love literature but aren’t afraid to admit they hate “Moby Dick” or make comments like, “In reading Twain, I often suspect he is having more fun than I am.” Lines like these kept me smiling throughout, until the very end when (spoiler alert) I cried a little.

This book is also a quick read and, let’s be honest, that is sometimes an important quality in a book. It’s the perfect read if you’ve just finished a long/dark/complicated book and want to recharge your batteries before committing to the next long/dark/complicated book on your reading list. And that comment isn’t intended to demean the quality or importance of this novel, because it’s a good, nicely written story.

What books have recharged your reading batteries? What authors do you turn to when you need something uplifting and light?

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8 thoughts on ““The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry”, by Gabrielle Zevin

  1. storied life was a nice and entertaining read–almost too sweet–there will surely be a movie made…recent reads include a bunch by Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels and shorter stories–somewhat dark but layers upon layers. Other favorites: Birds without Wings, Cairo Trilogy, Map of Love–good reading!

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  2. I picked up “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” last summer when it caught my eye at Target. It was a fun, shorter read and I passed it on to my reading friend who shares a common taste in books. We both like to alternate heavier reads with lighter, fun stuff too. A book that I found similar and thoroughly enjoyed recently was “A Man Called Ove”, by Fredrik Backman. I just bought (at Target again!) his most recent book published, “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry.” Can’t wait to start it!

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    • Thanks for commenting, Virginia. Coincidentally, I recently put “A Man Called Ove” on hold at the library. We seem to have similar taste in books, almost like we’re sisters or something. Let me know how you like that recent purchase.

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  3. What books have recharged your reading batteries?

    For me, it’s the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. I know you are a fan all the way back to “One For the Money.” Minus the medicre movie adaptation. 😉

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    • That is definitely a series that makes me laugh. I stalled out somewhere in the late teens. As soon as I can remember where I left off, I’ll probably get into the series again. And, yes, the movie was disappointing but the company was good!

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  4. I should have known who Maya’s father was all along! But I like to just go along and let a book reveal itself.

    Always when I read, part of my mind is trotting along side thinking about the writer. Who is she? What is she trying to tell me about her? About what?

    First off, she’s reminding me that I was a lazy English major who remembers nothing about literary devices, methods, and whatnot. So I’m left with “yeah, I see what you did there.”

    Second, she’s telling me that she is Amy or thinks very highly of someone like Amy. And I love that character. I was looking for her to go from strength to strength from the moment she was introduced, and I got worried when Maya’s mom drowned herself because I thought, well, if Gabrielle is going to dispatch this central-ish character right off the bat, then no-one is safe, so I may never see Amy again.

    Third, she’s a bomb-dropper. Completely unnecessary to have the two characters she knows good and well I will love the most directly say “I don’t believe in God.” This is tiresome in a Mike Birbiglia or Stephen Fry sort of way; although, Amy’s decision to edit the remark out of her note was a pleasant twist. It’s just that that information was superfluous and irritating, as would have been references to the Holy Saints (Catholicism), KJV quotes (Evangelicals), or “a ilaha illa Allah” (you know) in His Girl Friday.

    So, anyway, this book renewed my faith in American literature (see what I did there?), the faith that was tortured and nearly destroyed by Ellis, Janawitz, and their sort back in the day. I’ll be searching out Gabrielle’s other stuff and continuing to read the books you suggest.

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    • Hey Chip! I’m glad you enjoyed the book, too. I also liked Amy, especially since she was able to pull AJ back from the edge. I didn’t realize you were an English major. Glad you’re reading with me!

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