The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

April 30, 2014 Literary, Romance 26

18293427Title: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Source: from publisher for She Reads Book Club
Rating: ★★★★★
Summary: I am on a roll with wonderful books that make me cry. This book was beautifully written with well-rounded, believable character and a very enjoyable focus on books.

A. J. Fikry, owner of Island Books, has become something of a loner. After his wife’s death, his bookstore is doing poorly and he’s doing his best to push away help from friends and family. However, as A. J. deals with a mysterious package which appears in his store, he slowly realizes that he needs help. Beginning to reach out to others, he begins to change his life and the lives of those around him for the better.

As those of you who’ve been reading my blog lately will know, this book was basically written for me. I love stories where people help each other out and a focus on books is a delightful added bonus. The writing was beautiful and descriptive, immersing me in the locations the author described. She also did a particularly good job describing emotions. Even though the main character is a widower with whom I have little in common except a love of books, I could empathize with him right away. The supporting cast is also well developed, populated with a variety of secondary characters, all of whom have their flaws and their admirable qualities. The characters all had consistent, authentic voices too. I especially appreciated this at the beginning of each chapter where A. J. describes a short story and why he thinks it is worth reading. As I think someone in the book points out, by knowing someone’s reading taste, you can find out a lot about them.  For that reason, I felt these bits helped flesh out A. J.’s character in a fantastic way.

I also enjoyed the role books played in the story. I like that A. J. often connects to people and relates to the world through books. He made some funny comments about how his life related to fiction which I particularly enjoyed. I thought the way A. J.’s increasing understanding of people broadened his reading taste was an interesting inversion of the way books can make us more understanding of other people. Obviously as a reader, the message that books and bookstores can become central to a community appealed to me as well. However, for all that I loved the books in this story, I think the characters were what made this book for me. I became very attached to all of them and would happily believe them to be real. The way so many characters had flaws and strengths, hopes and fears made me very invested in the story. The ending, which was a little sad but mostly hopeful, was also a big part of why this was truly a wonderful book.

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26 Responses to “The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry”

  1. Sandy Didner

    Love your review. I will read it on your recommendation. I think we have the same taste in books. Have you read Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Zafon? It is about the library of lost books and one of the finest books I’ve ever read.

    • DoingDewey

      Wonderful! I just recently read Shadow of the Wind and haven’t done a review yet. I didn’t love the plot because I felt like the main character just got caught up in someone else’s adventure instead of having his own story, but did adore the writing and the passionate praise of books. The writing was really beautiful.

  2. Jennine G.

    Oh another great review of this book! I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

    • DoingDewey

      It’s so hard not to love a character who loves books! I think it can make characters easy to relate to and often means that the whole point of the story is about how wonderful books are, which works for me 🙂

  3. Cayce

    I love how you keep reviewing books that are on the top of my tbr (first The Word Exchange and now this 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      I’m excited to hear that, because hopefully I’ll be getting to hear your thoughts on them soon. I love reading the same books as other bloggers because talking about them afterwards is always a lot of fun 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      It’s so wonderful! When I have a run of five star books, I always start to worry that all my reviews might start to sound the same, but it’s great to enjoy so many books so much.

  4. Lianne @ caffeinatedlife.net

    I’ve been hearing so many good things about this book, definitely need to check it out one of these days 🙂

  5. Melissa W.

    Heard a lot of good things about this book and have requested it through my library.

    One thing I don’t like is when you read a number of really good books and then you read a dud; it can be so disappointing. Hope you find another good read.

    • Melissa W.

      Should mention that I didn’t mean to be a Debbie Downer and realize that my previous comment had nothing to do with the review; I was just wishing that your next read be as equally as good as this one.

      • DoingDewey

        Haha, no, I didn’t take it in a bad way! It can definitely be hard to get into a new book after you’ve finished a really good one. Fortunately, I’m reading One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern and loving it as much I have her previous books so hopefully my streak of good reads will continue 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      Yes! It’s so exciting when bloggers you know share your love of particular books. I thought this was really wonderful!

    • DoingDewey

      I feel like almost anyone who loves books is likely to love reading this one, so I’m excited to recommend it! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did 🙂

  6. Nikki

    I love books that make me cry, so this is pretty much an instant addition to my TBR list haha!

    • DoingDewey

      Wonderful! This is one of those books I enjoyed so much that I’m always excited to hear someone else plans on reading it 🙂

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