“People tell boring lies about politics, God, and love. You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, “What is your favorite book?”
Do you love books about family, love, and good stories? Well, do I have the book for you! Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a heartwarming and inspiring novel that has all of that and so much more.
The book begins with an encounter between a publishing sales representative named Amelia and the owner of Island Books, A.J. Fikry. Needless to say the meeting does not go over too well. The readers soon learn that A.J. has been through a rough time since his wife has passed away and as I got to know more about the man, I grew to like him just a little bit more. I liked that he had strong opinions about book selling even though they made it difficult for him to run his store successfully.
Things dramatically change however when a mysterious package is left in A.J.’s bookstore. Inside this package is something that slowly forces A.J. to change the way he lives his life. He starts becoming less selfish and slowly open up to the community and their tastes out of necessity which endears the locals and other people more to him. Of course there are some things he remains steadfast in (such as his refusal to modernize his store and incorporate things like eBooks and eReaders).
My favourite relationship in the book is A.J.’s new found relationship – and I’m not talking about any romantic ones. The relationship with is one of familial love, and it really brings out the good in him while being adorable from their first meeting. The significance of this relationship can be seen in the passages that mark the start of each new chapter where A.J. writes about different short stories and addresses them to someone named “Maya”. Without spoiling too much I hope, I would have to say that these passages become more affecting once you get to the end of the book and realize when and why A.J. wrote them.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is also a book for those who love their bookstores. I liked that it showed a bit of how the working relationship between a sales representative and bookseller is like. And I agree that it is rare to find someone who knows your tastes so well. With the recent closure of so many independent bookstores, I think this is a good read in that it reminds us of the importance of small bookstores as a place where you can get the personal one on one service that you may find lacking in online websites or even the bigger box stores.
If you like this book, you’ll love: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.