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

Bookish people can seldom resist the charms of bookish books and The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin should be no exception. For anyone looking for a sweet, mostly uplifting book about a bookstore owner, look no further.

A. J. Fikry is a man old before his time, a bookseller on Alice Island in the Northeast with very particular, curmudgeonly taste. When Knightley Press sales representative Amelia Lowman first meets Mr. Fikry he is snappish and rude with her. It is not until many years later that she learns it is because he had lost his wife to a tragic car accident the year before. When they reconnect, the intervening years have made them predisposed to see one another in a better light.

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is a love story and a story about chance connections. While Fikry and the author pick apart the general tropes of literary and popular fiction, Zevin employs what would sound, on the face of it, like a saccharine Silas Marner type story to emotionally effecting ends.

I can’t help but compare this book, in a way, to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Like Green’s book it unfolds and makes you care deeply about two characters who were perhaps not meant to find love but do. There also happens to be a badly behaved author, although that figures less greatly in this book than in Green’s. I also draw the comparison because this book, too, made me ugly cry at the end. You hate to stop reading about these characters because they restore your faith in humanity.

Once again, bookish people should not hesitate to pick up this most bookish and heartfelt of books–Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry.

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Misha Stone is a readers' advisory librarian with The Seattle Public Library. Follow her on Twitter at @ahsimlibrarian.

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