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

Publisher: Narrativa Nord

Published: January 2014

Pages: 306

Challenges: Women’s Challenge; Library Challenge



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. 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. 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 the 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 Thoughts…


This was a really great read! I had heard such good things about this book when it first came out, that I was really curious to see if it would live up to my expectations. And I’m really glad it not only did that, it managed to surpass them as well! To be honest, by the time I actually got round to borrowing this book from my library, I had mostly forgotten what it was supposed to be about. I only remembered it had something to do with a bookshop, an irascible owner and an abandoned child. And that’s basically what it is. At least, for the most part… Because this book is just so much more.

This is one of those books that somehow manages to touch upon everything with such grace, that we don’t even realise just how much we’re learning from them. So, forget the blurb! Yes, this is a book about a bookstore owner. But it also a book about love and loss. It’s about learning to let go of the past, and embracing the future, with all its uncertainties and the fears it brings with it. This is a book about people, friends and families, and how just about anyone can surprise us, if you’re only willing to give them the chance to. It’s a book about mistakes, and coming back from them. It’s about picking up the pieces after a tragedy; about learning to live, really live, again after you thought there was no reason to. In short, it’s a book about life, with all its highs and lows, the good and the bad.

The writing in this book was just amazing, it managed to convey everything the characters were feeling in such a way that, in some points, I actually felt it too. And the characters! They were all so incredibly developed, and changed radically throughout the book. I loved to see them grow, to feel their pain and fears together with their happiness. There were a couple of characters that I would have liked to see more of, but still, it all worked quite beautifully just the way it was. Overall, I loved this book, and I really recommend it to everyone!

What are you still doing here? GO READ THIS BOOK!

On a side note, I think this book should come with a disclaimer, something along the lines of:


This book will seriously affect your feelings, and could possibly leave them damaged. Serious attachment to fictional characters may also occur in some circumstances. Laughing uncontrollably, sighing, sniffling and crying are also possible side-effects. Reading this book may also result in an overabundance of quotes scribbled on whichever piece of paper was in the vicinity at the time of reading.


Rating: 5/5


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