Gabrielle Zevin sets her story in an independent bookstore. A wonderful setting for readers who enjoy perusing for their next read.
The first few chapters both compelled me to read on and revealed mysteries I wanted answered. Although the chapters seemed disjunct at first, I trusted the author to deliver. The first chapter introduces a book seller attempting to meet the bookstore owner but is rebuffed. The second presents us with the mystery of who stole the owner’s first edition of an early Poe work. And the third chapter leaves A. J. Fikry with an infant abandoned at his story. These three key events become the focal points around which the story revolves and from them the story is bit-by-bit fit together.
Gabrielle Zevin begins each chapter with notes written by A.J. about a book he read and what he thinks about it. I noticed that the notes become less coherent as the novel progressed, but clues to the reason for the cryptic notes and why Fikry wrote them aren’t resolved until the end of the story.
Gabrielle Zevin Ties Up the Lose Ends
All characters, mysteries and issues are tied up at the end of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. Although Zevin goes out of point-of-view to accomplish this, it helped to bring finality to the story. For me, the end was too expected. Nothing particularly fresh was presented, however I must admit, I cried.The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
on January 1st 1970
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.
We are not quite novels.
We are not quite short stories.
In the end, we are collected works.
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 Chief Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward him; from Ismay, his sister-in-law, who is hell-bent on saving A.J. from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who persists in taking the ferry 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, he 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, though large in weight—an unexpected arrival that gives A.J. 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., for the determined sales rep Amelia to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light, 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.