Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Title: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: April 1st 2014 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Format: Hardcover, 260 pages
Genre: Fiction

Have you ever sat down to write a review only to be afraid that your inadequate words might scare off future readers? That is where I am right now. I am afraid that my words might diminish this book and therefore others might choose to walk away without giving this book the attention that it deserves.

Do not walk away. This book will resonate with you. After the tears have subsided, it will fill you up with the belief that good can come from horrible situations.

For me, this small book was actually a story within a story. It begins with Amelia, a publishing representative, trying to sell a book from her winter catalog entitled “The Late Bloomer”; but by the end of the book, I began to wonder if Amelia and A.J. were actually the characters described within the original manuscript. Well, at least that is how I walked away.

A.J. Fikry is a young widowed bookseller who is very particular as to what he will sell, when Amelia arrives at Island Books, A.J. is completely ill mannered but that seems to be the beginning for both of them.

A.J. usually spends his evenings with microwaved meals and enough alcohol to help him to pass out, but this evening, he decides to take out his copy of Tamerlane, a limited publication written by Poe, that A.J. found and thinks of his retirement fund. After a night of drinking the book is gone, his future is gone, until one evening when he is closing the store he hears a sound, someone has left a beautiful baby girl with a note.

Thus begins the second season of A.J.’s life.

You do not want this book to end. You want all the happily ever after’s for all the characters involved. You want these people, which have been drawn together because of Maya, to stay the way they are into their doddering old age because that is what each of them needs. Unfortunately, that is not the way it is supposed to be. There has to be a crack somewhere. A truth needs to be told and a story must come to an end.

A spectacular one at that.

This book is a shelf keeper. One of those books that each time you read it; you will come away with something different.

Each character is well placed with no extras. They each have a story to tell. There is no extra fluff. No need to round out and fill pages. This book hits you in the heart and that is where the characters will stay.

This would be an excellent book for a group discussion. There is depth and layers that could be discussed. Justifications behind decisions made and characters further explored could keep you talking well into the night, if not into the next week.

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