Book Review – The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry – Gabrielle Zevin



  •    Book: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
  •    Author: Gabrielle Zevin
  •    Genre: Fiction
  •    Year of Release: 2014
  •    Read 260-page paperback edition in May 2015.

Book Description:

Bookseller and store owner A.J. Fikry is in a very difficult state of affairs at the moment. Nothing seems to be going well for him in his life, and he is feeling a variety of stressors, anger, and sadness, from many fronts.  When his prized and valuable possession is stolen from the store however, he feels he is near his breaking point.  But the stolen Edger Allen Poe collectors item sets off an interesting chain of events, that is sure to change his life, forever.

Book Review:

This was truly a fantastic novel!  Gabrielle Zevin has done a remarkable job bringing all kinds of themes, characters, and ideas together into a fun, interesting, and emotional journey.  Zevin does a great job of painting characters that are never caricatures, and are never good or bad, but rather complex, nuanced, shades of grey.  Rather than create cookie cutters for us to read about, she presents unique people that we can be angry with in one way, but still be cheering for, because they remind us about the complexities of human beings.  Main characters and secondary characters alike create enjoyment, amusement, and create an emotional investment by the reader, which is a testament to the strong writing of Zevin.

The plot itself is a meandering, twisting one, which allows the reader to see characters from a variety of angles, over a long period of time.  The novel’s chapters occur over a couple of decades, and although the timelines are not always clear, and although the reader is sometimes begging for more detail and information, what we are presented with is a fascinating plot.

The setting of Alice Island is well described by Zevin, and the setting inside the bookstore is a creation that allows us some mystery.  This idea of the independent bookstore, the intrigue of a bookstore owner, and the excitement of reading and living, are woven together beautifully.

There are ups and downs, and there is happiness and heartache.  Although it sometimes feels too short in places and too short in detail, that is a small price to pay for a great story, with great characters, Overall, this is a wonderful novel that celebrates the joy of reading, and the joy of relationships.

Overall: 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.