"The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry" by Gabrielle Zevin | Book Review

Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Page Count: 258
First Published: April 1, 2014

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Whenever I hear people say a certain book is a "must-read for book lovers" I am immediately skeptical. What exactly does that mean? There aren't really books for book haters, are there? The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is one of those novels that everyone recommends to book lovers. Well, I'm one of those mysterious reviewers now: the rumors are true, you must read this if you love books! The reasoning behind this is kind of difficult to explain. Yes, the lead character is a bookstore owner, and yes, there are a lot of references to books and stories within this, but it's the overall feeling and mood of this book that just makes you want to curl up on the couch with a huge cup of hot tea, and read until you absolutely have to rejoin the rest of the world.

A.J. Fikry is a pretty grumpy guy, who owns a small bookshop. He's very particular about things he likes, and he generally isn't the most social person. A.J. is also one of those characters you can't help loving, despite his flaws. One day, someone leave a mysterious package for him, and that changes his life forever. That's about all you need to know going into The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.

At first, he thinks this is happiness, but then he determines it’s love. Fucking love, he thinks. What a bother. It’s completely gotten in the way of his plan to drink himself to death, to drive his business to ruin.
— Gabrielle Zevin

This book is lovable, sweet, uplifting, and undeniably charming. At the same time, it's thought-provoking, and it will pull on your heart stings more than once. As I was reading it, I kept telling my friend Lindsay (who also is the one who gifted this book to me, because she's awesome) how cute this book was, and I meant it as a compliment! This never happens, by the way—I don't like cute books. And yet there I was. 

Something that I didn't expect was that the story actually takes place over a long period of time, which allows the reader to really see the character change and progress. And speaking of characters, every single one of them is so human and real—I loved them. Gabrielle Zevin's writing style is perfect for this type of story: she writes in a way that's easy to read, but her use of language is far from plain. She even sneaks a physical stores and books vs. e-readers argument in there, and definitely makes you want to go find a small local book store to shop at. 

My only issue with The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry has to do with the ending, which I obviously can't talk about. I'm not referring to the very ending of the book, but there is an event which effects one of the character in a certain way that made me really unhappy. Taking into account the type of the character this is and what the effects are (can I be any more cryptic here?), I thought it was cruel, and didn't fit the rest of the story.

Still, I really liked this book and I recommend this to anyone looking for a heartfelt novel with great realistic characters. We need more books like this one!

Have you read The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry? What did you think?