Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2014

Book Description (from the author’s website)

The #1 Indie Next Pick and the #1 Library Reads Selection for April 2014!

In the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books—and booksellers—that changes our lives by giving us the stories that open our hearts and enlighten our minds.

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.

My Review (3 Stars: Liked it!)

In The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, I especially enjoyed the, rather grumpy and disgruntled, main character A.J. Fikry. He owns a book store on Alice Island, off the coast of Massachusetts. I enjoyed watching him soften up as love enters his life. At the beginning of each chapter A.J. writes his thoughts/opinions about different books.  The story is quick paced and has a few surprising plot twists.

I was amazed with how the author, Gabrielle Zevin, weaved books and the book business into the story.  I think the greater your knowledge of books and the book business, the more you will appreciate this story. I did not know about many of the books referenced, but was still able to enjoy many parts of the story.

If you would like to read an interesting article with the author’s thoughts on this book, check out NPR: Interview Highlights: In ‘Storied Life,’ Characters Come With A Reading List.

About the author (from the author’s website)

Gabrielle Zevin’s writing career began at 14 years old when an angry letter to her local newspaper about a Guns ‘n’ Roses concert resulted in a job as a music critic. Over several novels for adults and young people, she has written about female soldiers in Iraq, mafia princesses in retro-future New York City, teenage girls in the afterlife, talking dogs, amnesiacs, and the difficulties of loving one person over many years. She is probably best known for her first novel, Elsewhere, which has been translated into over 20 languages. She is also the screenwriter of the cult hit Conversations with Other Women.

In the Age of Love and Chocolate, the latest in the the saga of Anya Balanchine, will be out October 2013.

Her eighth novel, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, will be published in April 2014 by Algonquin in the US and by Little, Brown in the UK (as The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry). It will also be published in 18 other languages.


The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, is the April Book Club Selection for She Reads. You can go to SheReads’, April Book Club Selection page, to find links to additional reviews on this book and enter their contest to receive one of five free copies of this book.

I would like to thank the She Reads Organization and the publisher, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill for providing me with an Advance Reading Copy of this book, free of charge, for review. I also enjoyed the promotional Boarding Pass for the ferry from Hyannis Terminal to Alice Island (fictional place).

Disclosure of Material Connection

I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book free from the publisher, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill as a member of the She Reads Network.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own.

12 thoughts on “Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin”

  1. So many people have loved this book, but for some reason I can’t find it in bookstores or on amazon as a kindle book. I am however quite interested in picking it up.


  2. Glad to know what this book is all about. It’s interesting it’s about the book business. I’d like to read this one.


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