Book review by Dinh.
I was looking forward to reading The Storied Life Of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. The book jacket gave the hint of a promising read. I do like to read books in which the main character transform or blossoms by the end of the book!
This is my first book by this author so I didn’t really know what to expect going in. The hardback book was only 258 pages which is on the shorter side of a novel I usually read. On the plus side, it would be a quick read, however it did make me wonder if Zevin was able to pull off a good story.
So, was it worth the read? Yes is the short answer!
Here’s what I liked about it:
I loved the premise of this book. It pays homage to books, authors and bookish things.
A. J. is a widow and owns a bookstore on Alice Island and nothing is going right for him and he is out of sorts – until he finds a toddler left in his bookstore. His life thereafter is transformed.
The novel was easy to read and had plenty of dialogue so I was turning the pages quickly.
The pace of the book and the length of the book also made it a quick read.
Zevin does a good job in structuring the book. I loved that at the beginning of each chapter there was a book selection and a note from A. J. to Maya. This was a thoughtful way to include books that A. J. thought Maya would enjoy and why he selected it.
Whilst the author did well in creating the structure, setting and quirky characters I did feel that it was a bare bones book. It lacked something…not sure what, perhaps depth?
I liked the themes, the setting, the bookish references and the twist, BUT it didn’t give me feelings!
I enjoyed the characters in this book but I did feel that they were not realistic. I didn’t warm up to any of the characters and felt that they were like cardboard cut out.
What I did like was how each character was transformed. A. J.’s life was completely overhauled with the adoption of Maya. He was given a second chance with love with marrying Amelia.
Chief Lambiase’s character was awesome. He moved from an occasional reader, to a book club reader and ended up as a book store seller!
The ending was apropos. It began with Island Books and ends with it. It ends like the beginning- a circle of life.
My Final Thoughts
Overall, I enjoyed The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. Althoug it does have lots of elements I like in books, it was not executed well enough for it to be a great read. I liked that it paid homage to books and had some interesting bookish references.
Belong to a book club? Check out The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry book club discussion questions!