“You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, 'What is your favorite book?'" ― The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
It's quotes like that one that make The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry so beloved and memorable. Like any good bibliophile, I can't pass up a book about books, but this one is unlike any other I have ever read.
I give this book:
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry introduces you to a grieving (in the form of grumpy) independent bookstore owner named – you got it – A.J. Fikry. After the death of his wife, A.J. has no real interest in doing anything besides working in his store, getting drunk off cheap wine and surviving on microwaveable meals. When one of his most valuable books goes missing, A.J. pretty much gives up hope for a happy ending ... that is, until a small and very surprising gift is left for him in the bookstore and changes his life forever.
With foreshadowing that is so subtle you almost can't notice it, the pages of the book follow A.J.'s life along with a few other key people on Alice Island, including a determined sales rep, a friendly police chief, an adulterous author and more. Like most books that I find myself connected to, this story unfolds much like that of life – one event at a time and somehow also all at once.
Complete with a booklist of it's own, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry covers a lot of literary ground. Just when you think you know where the story is going – just when your attention is focused on one aspect of the story – author Gabrielle Zevin mixes things up. It is this lifelike unpredictability that makes the work such a wonder.
“The words you can’t find, you borrow. We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone. My life is in these books, he wants to tell her. Read these and know my heart. We are not quite novels. The analogy he is looking for is almost there. We are not quite short stories. At this point, his life is seeming closest to that. In the end, we are collected works.” ― The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry