Saturday, July 19, 2014

Staff Pick - The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

A little book with a big heart. It grabbed me right away. I didn’t want to put it down because that would mean it was over…. I even read the acknowledgments to prolong the inevitable when I would have to let it go.  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry did everything a work of fiction aspires to do. It made me think, it made me laugh, it made me weep.

This is the simple story (in that all lives are simple – yet vastly complicated at the same time) of bookstore owner A. J. Fikry who resides on a fictional island off the coast of Massachusetts. When we meet him he is a widower whose raw grief over the loss of his wife is ruining his life. He drinks to excess, alone.

Then one day – while drinking – he decides to take out his prized possession. An invaluable copy of Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘Tamerlane’. He is so drunk he gets sick and passes out. When he awakes the next morning his rare book is missing! Also, suspiciously… his kitchen has been cleaned up. He reports the theft to the police. Since he now feels that he owns nothing of any real value, he begins to leave his door open when he goes out. One day he returns to his bookstore to find that someone has left a baby. The little girl is accompanied only by a brief note and a stuffed Elmo.

This abandoned child will come to forever change A.J.’s life. Maya is a charming, intelligent, beautiful and oh so precocious girl. He lovingly calls her his ‘little nerd’. Another person who will rock his world is Amelie, a publishing sales representative. When first they meet he is bitter and still grieving his wife. He make a less than positive impression. Despite the rough start, over the years, their friendship develops into something more.

A.J. Fikry, his family and friends, have left an indelible mark on this reader’s soul. A.J. Fikry believes you know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book? Well A.J. I think your story is mine. A love letter to the world of books, booksellers, and life in general. Filled with quotes and wisdom that will delight every person who considers themselves to be a bibliophile, Gabrielle Zevin‘s novel will set the bar for other novels.

I completely agree with the publisher’s statement that the novel is “an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.”

Can’t recommend it enough…

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