The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin | Conversation Starters
by Gabrielle Zevin
Paperback- $5.84

Don't miss Gabrielle Zevin's new novel, Young Jane Young, coming in August 2017.

“Funny, tender, and moving, The Storied Life of A. J. ...

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  "Grumpus With a Heart of Gold" by kmcgee (see profile) 04/07/14

A.J. Fikry leads a quiet life watching over his bookstore on a tiny island and mourning the loss of his wife. While he could be a bit warmer to his customers and vendors, he suddenly finds himself taking care of a toddler who has been deposited on his doorstep. His heart and his life will expand in ways that he never saw coming. Wonderful wit, fantastic characters - your cheeks will hurt from smiling so much!

 
  "There is more than meets the eye in this little novel!" by thewanderingjew (see profile) 05/09/14

A. J. Fikry, owns and operates a charming bookstore, on Alice Island. It is the kind that rarely exists today, having given way to the monster-sized edifices that are home to booksellers today. Fikry is well read, the quintessential bookstore owner; he knows authors and book styles, can recommend books to his customers based on their likes and dislikes. He has his own particular fixed likes and dislikes, often quoting from books to make a point. His life is defined by and through books. He communicates through their words with messages that he passes on as wise tidbits of knowledge.
A. J. is still grieving over the loss of his wife, killed in an accident, and he resorts too often to liquor as a pain reliever. He is feisty and cantankerous and doesn’t seem the type to “make friends and influence people” very easily. As a matter of fact, when Amelia (Amy), appears in his store to present the winter book list of Knightly Publishers, he is rude and indifferent, even when he learns she is replacing the former salesperson who has died. That night, however, truly saddened by the death of that man, he binge drinks, and when he wakes up from his drunken stupor, he finds that his most valuable book, Tamerlane, a book that was to guarantee his secure retirement, has disappeared. Then he discovers a child that has been abandoned in his store. The mother is nowhere to be found. All that he finds is a note entrusting Maya to his care. Maya seems older and wiser than her years. Her influence on him is enormous.
The story that evolves, as he and the child bond and Amelia becomes more and more of a steady visitor, is very tender, somewhat romantic and also humorous, although it does seem to be hiding behind a mask that seems indifferent, simplistic and even mundane, at times. Emotions are quite matter-of-factly laid bare, leaving no doubt as to how the characters feel as they help to make each other more complete. It makes the story even more appealing and comfortable to read.
Human feelings and reactions are explored from the vantage point of adults and from the eye of a precocious, bright, rather well-adjusted child, who has been raised very well, rather unexpectedly, by this inexperienced, insecure man, lonely and somewhat lost without his wife who used to operate the Alice Island bookstore with him. The fictitious Alice Island is a rather appealing place, reminiscent of Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard (for those who know of Cape Cod and the Islands), which can also be reached by traveling on a ferry that leaves from Hyannis, MA. Life is laid back and unhurried on both the real and the fictitious island.
This is a beautiful story about love, loss, relationships, friendships, and even bias is briefly and subtly explored. Race seems to be a tiny underlying subject, but I am not sure why, unless the lack of emphasis is to indicate and reinforce the idea that the race of a person is meaningless, as color has no bearing on any of the relationships, nor should it. The characters exist outside the barriers that are often presented when race becomes the focus rather than the abstract. They simply interact and exist in this imaginary storybook kind of a world, almost free from modern day contrivances.
The story is guided by quotes from books as A. J. leaves notes around for those he loves. It concentrates on the development of beautiful, sincere friendships and a natural love of parent and child coupled with a warm sense of devotion and loyalty. These traits assume far more importance than money, the loss of material things, the revelation of what could be life-changing secrets and even facing illness and death. Rather it dwells on the beauty within people, their ability to face their demons and their ability to forgive and forget. What seems like a simple story is really quite profound as secrets are revealed to the reader and mysteries are solved. Still, life is ultimately dealt with and the tale comes to a warm and satisfying conclusion.

 
  "the storied life of a j fikry" by bhale (see profile) 05/10/14

 
  "One of my new top favs" by CJReis (see profile) 06/03/14

This is going on my list of \\\"must-reads.\\\" A book about book lovers, a book about love, life, change. I read it in one sitting, couldn\\\'t put it down.

It is so beautifully written. Zevin is a talented conductor on this quickly-paced ride, cleverly and concisely directing your attention only to the important things you need to know. She won\\\'t trouble your head with drawn-out descriptions; you\\\'ll get more perspective later. Be prepared for the quickness though. At first, you may find it uncomfortable, but it\\\'s intentional and benefits the story.

Oh the story, what a lovely story. Sweet and charming without being saccharine, sad without being depressing or too heavy.

There have been comments on other sites from readers who didn\\\'t feel there was enough character development. I don\\\'t think those people paid close enough attention. While Zevin may not give you the characters in the same way as most writers, I felt that I knew them. When I was done, I was sad to leave my friends that I had rooted for and with whom I grieved. If I were to see A.J. Fikry walking down the street, I would know it was him.

I will reread this book for years and rave about it to anyone who will listen.

 
  "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry" by vernandglen (see profile) 06/13/14

I enjoyed this book and liked the literary references throughout.

 
  "Charming summer read" by Kwizgiver (see profile) 07/11/14

We loved talking about all the interesting characters and pop-culture references. We were charmed by the book and overall we enjoyed it (even our curmudgeon liked it!).

 
  "The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry" by JoStARs (see profile) 07/14/14

Encompassing a somewhat improbably storyline, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is a tribute to books that will resonate with those of us who adore books and reading, and who have fantasized about owning a small bookstore one day. For that reason alone, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is an enjoyable read, and I recommend it.

 
  "Not enough of a story line to say it's a great book" by ssskjw (see profile) 07/22/14

I love that the story takes place mainly in the bookstore, but I think the story drags in parts, is predictable in parts and sometimes just frustrating.

 
  "Storied Life of A.J, Fikry" by lola1007 (see profile) 07/29/14

Light summer read; well paced story of a man's chance to start over. Set on an island, in a library, book about books and more (with a twist of humor). Who could ask for more?

 
  "Cleverly constructed" by Bridgelzp (see profile) 09/03/14

Really likesd the story. Clever construction. Quick read. Interesting twists and surprises. Likable characters.

 
  "Full of Stories" by nbaker (see profile) 09/09/14

This book was a quick read but was most enjoyable. A. J. Fikry is a strange man, very much a loner and feeling lost after the loss of his wife. The owner of a small island book store, he has few customers, few friends and even fewer goals. His only love is his passion for the written word. Then a miracle falls into his lap in the form of an infant and his life is changed forever. I loved all of the references to various books in this story - many of which I read as a child and glad to know that they meant something to someone else besides me. I don't want to give away the entire story, but suffice it to say that A.J. Fikry learns to share his passion for books and in doing so finds purpose and meaning in his life. A short but sweet story that reaffirms to me that my own feelings about books and continuously reading is not an obsession but merely a passion. And what great fun when we find others with whom we can share our passion.

 
  "The Storied Life Of AJ Fikry" by drank (see profile) 09/11/14

It was a quick read that I didn't want to put down.

 
  "AJ Fikry" by arizonamom (see profile) 09/24/14

Lovely story of a man who finds love and learns to give it.

 
  "The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel" by books4glo (see profile) 09/24/14

A good book club book - funny, fun and a book which was hard to put down

 
  "THE STORIED LIFE OF AJ FIKRY" by ddockweiler (see profile) 09/25/14

Our group LOVED this book. We had one of our best discussions.

 
  "" by Saracasey (see profile) 10/19/14

 
  "Blah" by FriendshipSisters (see profile) 10/27/14

Blah! Not much to the story, and no connection with the characters. Would not recommend.

 
  "" by mgoewey (see profile) 10/29/14

 
  "" by billandsusan2014 (see profile) 11/03/14

 
  "The Storied Life of A J Fikry" by Linda40 (see profile) 11/03/14

Nothing too remarkable about this book. A safe read, characters, in my opinion, lack depth. Best part of the book is the beginning. Story and characters weaken as it progresses.

 
  "Everyone in book club liked it" by awr115 (see profile) 11/17/14

We rated it a 4.4 out of 5. Good story with interesting characters. Led to an interesting book discussion on topics we did not expect. Not a heavy/deep book.

 
  "" by CK529 (see profile) 09/23/19

 
  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 09/27/19

 
  "" by laureensa (see profile) 09/29/19

 
  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 12/18/19

It was a fun read and educational, as well!

 
  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 04/09/20

 
  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 04/15/20

 
  "" by Kathy Peterson (see profile) 05/22/20

 
  "" by krilljack (see profile) 07/04/20

 
  "A bit of a love letter to all things literary" by zodejodie4 (see profile) 09/12/20

A bit of a love letter to all things literary -- books, bookstores, authors, words, poets & the power that storytelling has to draw us together & connect us. It's also about love, friendship & second chances. I really enjoyed this delightful story, the characters it was peopled with, & the stories they had to tell.

 
  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 11/11/20

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