The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
I discovered Gabrielle Zevin's charming The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry in the second-hand bookshop in Hanover as I procrastinated studying for my winter term finals. As an avid fan of small bookstores, this novel was light, quick and loving. One reviewer writes, "Do you fantasize about owning such a place, preferably a jumble of rooms encouraging browsers to meander all afternoon, ideally located in a quaint New England town? Gabrielle Zevin has written this novel for you." And that definitely is one of my fantasies. A. J. Fikry's wife dies in a surprise automobile accident, leaving him to run their bookstore on a small New England island. As he drinks himself into disrepair, his rare book is stolen (one that he could have sold to save his bookstore from bankruptcy) and a two year old is left for him to raise, with a note saying:
To the Owner of this Bookstore:
This is Maya. She is twenty-five months old. She is VERY SMART, exceptionally verbal for her age, and a sweet, good girl. I want her to grow up to be a reader. I want her to grow up in a place with books and among people who care about those kinds of things. I love her very much, but I can no longer take care of her. The father cannot be in her life, and I do not have a family that can help. I am desparate.
And so unfolds the story. It was a quick read (I must admit I read it in one sitting) and I really enjoyed it. Nothing special, but sometimes you just need a solid story about books (I know I do). I don't really have much to review besides I loved that each chapter started with a note from A. J. to Maya about an important short story. I now have the desire to look up and read these stories. A quote from Zevin, about how she describes her characters... "I thought as a strategy it would be really interesting to describe people in terms of what they read and how they read.. I think you can do a lot, like describing people with their physical characteristics, things like that, but to me I've always found it to be a much more informative question to ask somebody what they read." A charming and heartwarming literary story. Rating:★★★★