Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

*Many thanks to Net Galley and Algonquin books for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.*

Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

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 Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over 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, A.J. 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, but large in weight. It's that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry 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.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or 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. 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.

This insomniac's opinion:

This review is going to be an  anti-climatic review, folks. Because I'm going to tell you my rating first- 4 stars. The reason that I am telling you this, is because I am about to wax poetic about the novel and you might be surprised that it wasn't a solid five stars. It just simply wasn't, I don't know the reason, it just wasn't. However, I loved it and believe that it is a must-read for a bibliophile.

This novel has been on quite a few "must read upcoming books of 2014" lists. And, rightly so. It is a delightful read, full of quirky and loveable characters and, most importantly, copious references to wonderful books. It wasn't a very serious read and I fear that it may be mistaken by some as beach fodder. However, the ending was so magical for me, as an avid reader, that I will never look at my book stash in the same way and am determined to leave my children with my favorite books after my death. Even though it isn't the best written novel I will read this year, it resonated with me in a very intense way.

Rating: 4 stars

Worth staying up all night to read?


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