The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

18293427.jpgCranky and acerbic book store owner on a small New England island becomes a young widower. Not long after his wife’s death, A.J. Fikry becomes an unexpected father, after a valuable and rare manuscript is stolen from his home above Island Books.

Life certainly has not gone as A.J. had planned, and yet, things seem to be falling into a more positive pattern. Through it all, he is prickly and proud and cantankerous in a way that is quite endearing. Honestly, I think I love him a little! What I really did like a lot in this book is the sharp, quick wit that dominates the narrative. The tone is intellectual and funny and there is so much heart throughout.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is memorable for a lot of reasons, among which are the characters, certainly, but also the surprising intricacies in the plot. There are traces of the bittersweet throughout and I think that lends a feeling of truth and belief. Artfully crafted and very well written.

About the Book
On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

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.

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About the Author
40593Gabrielle Zevin is the New York Times Best Selling author of eight novels. For adults: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (2014), The Hole We’re In (2010), and Margarettown (2005). For young adults: Elsewhere (2005), Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac (2007), and the three books in the Anya Balanchine series, All These Things I’ve Done (2011), Because It Is My Blood (2012), and In the Age of Love and Chocolate (2013). Her books have been translated into over thirty languages.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry has spent over four months on the New York Times Best Seller List, reached #1 on the National Indie Bestseller List, and has been a bestseller in multiple countries. The Toronto Globe and Mail called the book “a powerful novel about the power of novels.”

Her debut, Margarettown, was a selection of the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program. The Hole We’re In was a New York Times Editor’s Choice title. Publishers Weekly called The Hole We’re In “a Corrections for our recessionary times.”

Her best known young adult novel is Elsewhere, an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book. Of Elsewhere, the New York Times Book Review wrote, “Every so often a book comes along with a premise so fresh and arresting it seems to exist in a category all its own… Elsewhere, by Gabrielle Zevin, is such a book.”

She is the screenwriter of Conversations with Other Women (Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Eckhart) for which she received an Independent Spirit Award Nomination for Best First Screenplay. In 2009, she and director Hans Canosa adapted her novel Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac (ALA Best Books for Young Adults) into the Japanese film, Dareka ga Watashi ni Kiss wo Shita. She has also written for the New York Times Book Review and NPR’s All Things Considered. She began her writing career at age fourteen as a music critic for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

Zevin is a graduate of Harvard University. She lives in Los Angeles.

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