Tuesday, April 14, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

One of my book groups is meeting in a few days and the book picked was The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. This is a sweet, contemporary love story with a small town/island bookstore for setting. The target audience is clear!

A.J. Fikry owns the sole bookstore on Alice Island. A recent widower, he is a bit of a curmudgeon and with the death of his wife, he has neglected the store and attempted to drink away his grief.

Amelia Loman, a quirky, upbeat sales representative from a small publisher comes to the island to gently push her company's fall list and he rebuffs her rudely. He feels a bit bad about his behavior. Nevertheless, after she leaves, he follows his usual evening pattern of too much alcohol and passing out in bed. This time, though, he dines with a special companion, a rare and valuable collection of Poe’s poems–a book he usually keeps under lock and key. When he wakes in the morning, the book is gone.

The theft is the first odd occurrence. Next, a gift is left in his shop. A precocious toddler.

What next?

In the tradition of sweet, redemptive stories, what comes next is not a surprise to the reader, though Fikry’s transformation is unexpected and welcome to the small island town. And there are ripple effects throughout.

The book is a quick read. Although reminiscent of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand or A Man Called Ove, it was not as emotionally compelling, but perhaps it’s because the curmudgeonly widower finding new love and redemption genre is getting a bit worn for me. What kept me turning the pages this time were the conversations between the various characters as they discussed books. The characters’ love of literature of all stripes provided this book its charm.

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