The Storied Life

Reviewer rating

Format reviewed: Print

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

This charming novel is about life, love, romance, books, the people who are touched by books and the ways books can change people and the course of their lives.  It is a sweet and winning story which explores many types of love but is never maudlin, cloying or over-dramatic.  

A.J. Fikry is the owner of Island Books located on Alice Island just off the coast of Massachusetts.  He has become an angry and bitter man since the death of his beloved wife.  He is sick and tired of life and just goes through the motions of keeping his bookstore (barely) afloat.  His life takes a sudden turn with the appearance of a toddler abandoned in his store.  By opening his heart and adopting her, his life opens up in many unexpected ways.  

While I certainly think of this book as a romance, it doesn’t follow the typical arc of a romance novel; indeed, many types of love are explored and all of them are encouraged, altered or doomed by a book in one way or another. From stolen books and lost books, to book clubs and authors. From falling in love with someone who loves the same book you do to deciding not to date someone based on their (lack of) reading interests.  From falling in love with an author because you loved his book to falling out of love with a book because you met the author.  There is romantic love, filial love, love taken for granted, tolerated love, hopeful love, new love, second-chance love, the abuse of love and of course the love of books and stories.  

Many books are suggested and mentioned in the book and each chapter is prefaced with a review by A.J. of a short story that has had a special meaning or influence in his life.  Many reviewers call this a perfect book for a book club, and I completely agree.  It is hopeful, wise and insightful and will give you much to think about and discuss.

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