The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry


I have often imagined myself owning a bookstore where I’d be able to smell, feel and read books all day long. This daydream is what drew me to read The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (C) by Gabrielle Zevin.

A.J. owns an independent bookstore on Alice Island off the coast of Massachusetts. He lives above the store with his wife who at the very beginning of the book dies in an accident. Lost and miserable, most evenings he drinks himself into oblivion. Two life-changing events occur while he is in one of his drink-induced comas. First, a rare edition book that he owns “Tamerlane” is stolen. Second, a child is left in the bookstore with a note designating him as the one that should care for her. The mother of the child is found drowned the day after. With the adoption of Maya, A.J. becomes a different man. As Maya grows he feeds her books as often as he feeds her food.

Each chapter is prefaced with an excerpt from a journal that A.J. writes for Maya. A different book is referenced in each entry and pertains to what will follow. While I found the story nothing special and often extremely predictable and child-like, I did enjoy these journal entries. It was fun for me to discover how many of the books he references throughout the novel that I’ve actually read.

The story moved fast, had a twist, piqued my curiosity and was entertaining. I was not impressed with the writing and greatly disagree with many of the reviewers that found the book a treasure. I’d deem it a good “beach” read, nice and fluffy on a hot day.


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