Concord Public Library Book of the Week

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The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Gabrielle Zevin

2012, 331 pages


A.J. Fikry is the curmudgeonly owner of Island Books; Amelia Loman is a publishing sales rep who visits the store. Amelia is a “bright-sider” by nature, but the meeting doesn’t go well. Fikry’s wife died and he’s drinking himself into oblivion. But one night Fikry’s copy of Edgar Allen Poe’s Tamerlane – a very rare book – is stolen while he’s in a stupor.Then a toddler, Maya, is left in the bookstore with a note saying “I want her to grow up in a place with books . . .” Fikry and his new friend, police Chief Lambiase, try to figure out how a bachelor running a “persnickety” bookstore might take care of Maya.

Readers find out what happens to Fikry, Maya, Amelia and Lambiase, as well as Fikry’s former sister-in-law, Ismay. Each chapter opens with a note about a story Fikry wants Maya to read. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is about the fictions we read, those we believe and those we tell. It’s also about family, and how “shared sensibility” can build bonds even stronger than blood ties. And it’s a story of love in its many forms.

Some of the twists were too obvious and some of the characters too much to type. When Zevin allows them to be human, they’re more interesting. But I’d still recommend this novel to readers willing to overlook some flaws. Lambiase, in particular, is a wonderful supporting character. And like all good fiction, this book explores truth and humanity. 

Deb Baker

Concord Public Library

Author: tgoodwin

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