Wednesday, January 7, 2015
The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Things can't get much worse for A.J. Fikry. He married his college sweetheart and they opted out of graduate school to open a bookstore on a New England island. Their life was satisfying, but that all ended when Fikry's wife is killed in an auto accident, leaving him to run the bookstore while grieving. He barely makes it through the days, going home to drink himself into oblivion at night. While drunk one night, his prize possession, a first edition of Edgar Allen Poe's book of poetry, Tamerlane, is stolen. This is a real blow as it was his nest egg, a book worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Then something surprising and unlikely happens. A.J. returns to the bookstore one day to find that someone has left a small child in the bookstore with a note saying that the mother can't raise her and thinks being raised in a bookstore would be the best thing ever for a child. A.J. has no interest in having a child, but agrees to keep the little girl for a weekend since the social service representative won't be able to get over to the island until the next week. By the time she comes, A.J. has changed his mind and ends up adopting Maya.
The book continues to chronicle A.J. and Maya's life together over the following years, as they learn to live together, Maya starts school, A.J. comes out of his introversion and becomes a community member. The bookstore starts to do well as Fikry becomes more entwined in the island's life. Throughout the years, A.J. writes about his favorite books and tells Maya which ones he believes she will like as she grows as a reader and writer.
Gabrielle Zevin has written a heart touching novel made for readers. It celebrates the reading life and attempts to demonstrate the large part that books play in the lives of readers. As the book progresses, one finds oneself cheering for A.J. and Maya and the lives they are building. This book is recommended for readers and those who enjoy literary fiction.