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

17 May 2019

I think that reading books about books is a very special experience for all book lovers. It's comforting to see an author portray their own ode to the bookish life through their work. It's so meta, but through them, readers can feel understood and appreciated. I've read many stories about books, bookshops, and readers, and they always inspire me to read even more.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is a beautiful example of a book about books, and I adored it. It's a heartwarming story about a cranky, lonely bookseller who unexpectedly finds himself having to raise a child who was left at his doorstep.

I expected to enjoy this book when I started it, but what I didn't expect was to love it completely with my whole heart. It surprised me. It's a short book, and it's so wholesome and heartwarming, but I also found it to be extremely hard-hitting. I was crying at the end, and I thought about it long after I had finished it. However, despite being sad, it can also be extremely funny and happy at the same time.

I really appreciated the snark of A.J. Fikry's personality, and the great respect he had for books. I also loved how all the other characters balanced him out with their contrasting personalities. Every character added a different layer to the story, and they were all uniquely themselves.

The plot was also something that pleasantly surprised me. It wasn't as straightforward as I expected it to be. There were twists and turns I didn't see coming, which is rare for me to find in any type of book, let alone a contemporary. It followed a long span of time, and the characters all grew and developed a lot through the many years the story covered. I especially appreciated A.J.'s growth through becoming a father.

The aspect I enjoyed the most while reading this book was the amount of literary references. A.J. Fikry has an obsession with short stories (especially Edgar Allan Poe) and each chapter is named after a real short story, which sets the tone for the section of the book. I loved all the little nods to books and how reading can shape your life so dramatically.

This story was something special. It was unexpected. It took hold of me without my knowing it, and it's one I'll be thinking about until I pick it up again someday soon.

Rating: ★★★★★
"You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?"-- Gabrielle Zevin, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

1 comment

  1. I love books, so this book sounds intriguing! I love the heartwarming idea of a crotchety old man who loves books and eventually adopts a child.