My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
We are not quite novels. We are not quite short stories. In the end, we are collected works. — A.J. Fikry
Like the other books of Gabrielle Zevin, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry will warm your heart yet tug at your heartstrings at the end. It will make you feel like you’ve parted ways with a special person. Or you’ve eaten the last piece of your chocolate cake and you still want more.
As the title might suggest, this is a story about A.J. Fikry, a man who owns a bookshop on Alice Island. Ever since his wife died, he has been living a lonely life. It becomes worse when his prized possession, an extremely rare collection of poems by Edgar Allan Poe, is stolen. But everything changes when a mysterious package appears at his bookstore and gives him a chance to have a new life.
A.J. is a character that you might not love easily. He’s grumpy, mean, and cynical. He’s also a literary snob. He disliked so many kinds of books that when he enumerated them, his rant occupied an entire page! But as the story progressed and new elements came into the picture, it became hard not to love him.
“A place is not really a place without a bookstore.”
One of my favorite things in this book was A.J.’s bookstore, Island Books. The bookstore’s slogan was “No man is an Island; Every book is a World,” and I totally agreed with this. Opening a book is like opening a portal to a different world, and when you’re reading, you’re never truly alone. I also liked how the bookstore touched the lives of so many people on the island. It became a very important part of the community. This made me want to have my own bookstore someday.
I love books. But books about books? ICING ON THE CAKE! Reading this was such a treat! A.J.’s mini book reviews and commentaries were so fun to read. I also discovered interesting books and short stories. And while A.J. and I don’t really have the same taste when it comes to books (he dislikes YA novels), his love for reading made him a very relatable character.
This novel emphasized two important things about books:
1. Books can change a person’s life.
“He has found that people do all sorts of things, and they usually have their reasons.”
My favorite character might be Lambiase, chief of police on the island. His journey from being someone who hardly reads a book to an avid reader who hosts a monthly book club is something that deeply resonated with me. Reading books evidently changed him for the better.
In the beginning, he was just a “normal” police officer, doing his “normal” job. He only saw things from an objective point of view. But when he became a reader, he realized that there’s more to a person than who, what, when, and how. There’s also a why. There was a particular scene in the book where he was about to confront someone but ended up not doing it. If he hadn’t become a reader, I think that he would have arrested that person immediately.
2. You meet people through books.
“And I like talking about books with people who like talking about books.”
I could really relate to this. I am truly thankful for all the people I meet through books, whether in real life or online. In fact, I met my super awesome blog partner, Kuya Josh, because of a book! And I’ve been on bookstagram for quite a long time already to know that I’m not the only one who’s glad to have met people because of books. I’ve read so many posts about people meeting others who share the same interests as them.
There’s something special and beautiful about finding people you can talk to when your favorite character dies, when a book ends with a cliffhanger and now you have to wait a year for the next book, or when you want to throw a book out of the window because the main character is so annoying 😰
All in all, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a lovely book that’s perfect for book lovers. It’s a story about grief, love, friendship, and how books can be a huge part of a person’s life. I still want to talk about a lot of things about this novel, but you just have to read it to discover all the good stuff!