The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
★★★ and 1/2
Synopsis: (from the book flap) A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island--from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly. And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.
In A Sentence: a very nice story that made for an enjoyable (and quick) read
My Thoughts: I liked this story, particularly the beginning when A.J. Fikry's life starts to change for the better. I love plots like this, where a depressed character has a life-changing event that brings out his or her better qualities. In general there wasn't a whole lot of depth to this book, but the characters were rather sweet, the story moved along quickly, and the plot was uplifting, despite the sad parts that were peppered throughout the end. This book definitely deserves the high praise it's been getting across the various reading communities.
I couldn't love this story, unfortunately. Perhaps my expectations were a little too high based on all the glowing reviews, but one thing's for sure: I've seen this plot before: in a movie called A Simple Twist Of Fate, with actor Steve Martin.
(view spoiler)[There's this movie with actor Steve Martin called A Simple Twist Of Fate, and I swear that the first two thirds of this book is almost exactly like the movie. Steve Martin's character used to be happily married, but that marriage ended really badly, so now he has isolated himself from the small town community he currently lives in. He has a very valuable collection of coins that gets stolen one night. A few days later, he finds a little girl in his house; the mother (a heroin addict) left her there and subsequently died from exposure on the road. The father of the little girl turns out to an important community figure whose wife keeps on miscarrying. Steve Martin's character decides to adopt the little girl and is thus transformed. When the girl is older, they end up finding the stolen coin collection, which was desperately needed. (hide spoiler)]
I kept thinking back to this movie as I was reading and noting the similarities. As a result the story felt a bit formulaic, which made it less enjoyable for me.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't read this book, however. Like I said, this book does deserve it's high praise. I would recommend that you give it a try anyway, despite my review. It's quick, it's light, and it's bittersweet. Plus, it's all about growing up in a bookstore! How could any book lover not want to read about that?!</["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]>
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