I was trying to be as curmudgeonly as the title character when I picked up this book that everyone seemed to be lauding. But by the end, I had succumbed to its charm and even had big ole tears in my eyes! The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is a quick read, a charming read, and really not to be missed.
A. J. Fikry has several good reasons to be in a perpetual bad mood: his wife has died much too young; his bookstore is floundering; and his rare copy of Tamerlane by E. A. Poe has been stolen. And then a small child enters into his life. That was the part that I was not going to be emotionally manipulated by—no sweetie sweet stories for me! I didn't want to read about how a child can transform one's life. I didn't want to witness A. J.'s bad attitude transformed by love, turning him from an isolated stranger into the village favorite. No heartwarming middle-age love stories for me. No redemptive stories of second chances in life.
But in spite of my attempted irascibility, I succumbed. Not only did I succumb, I fell in love with this story! Besides the uplifting plot, each chapter is delightfully introduced by a different short story and Fikry’s commentary. As you read on, you realize the he is putting together a reading list for his daughter Maya. Part of the book's appeal also comes from its loving descriptions of book lovers and booksellers and small bookstores. If you can claim allegiance to any of the above, you'll enjoy this endearing tribute...whether you want to or not!
“We are not quite novels. We are not quite short stories. In the end, we are collected works.”