I have a fairly established relationship with Gabrielle Zevin, author of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. She doesn't know it, but I've read two of her books in previous Dewey Readathons, and I've enjoyed both. In fact, she's one of those authors whose work I fully intend to devour any time she releases something new.
So imagine my surprise when EVERYONE started chatting about The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, and I didn't even realize she had a new book out. Egg on my face. Bad fan here! Once I realized my silliness, I snapped up a copy of this little book and devoured it for the #24in48 readathon. Like so many others, I absolutely adored it, and it's definitely my favorite of her work so far. You can see reviews of her novels, Elsewhere and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac in past blog posts.
But back to A.J. Fikry. He's awfully unpleasant for a young'ish man. But he has an excuse: his wife has passed away. He's left to run their bookstore on a secluded island well-suited to tourists but not so wonderfully suited to a widower with anger issues. Until the day someone steals a very valuable book, and THEN someone leaves a "special package" in the bookstore, and everyone's lives change. Once A.J. gets his head out of his patoot and notices a quirky publishing rep (who he's known for years, technically), things change some more, the trifecta of BIG EVENTS is in place. And it was so so fantastic.
This is definitely a book for book lovers as the characters are constantly talking books and surrounded by them. One of Fikry's best friends, a local police chief, even starts a book club! Now I want our local police chief to start a book club, though I don't think he's sold on the idea.
The characterization was one of my favorite parts of this story. Everyone grows in their relationships with each other and their interactions have the bookstore at their center. Even though it's quite short, each character stood out vividly and had expertly developed personalities...their flaws and their charms. And while I don't want to give away the end, I got quite the "epic" feel from this book. Maybe sprawling is a better term. It covered a lot of ground for something like 250 pages.
Overall, damn fun. Damn fine. And it made me do the UGLY CRY! Those well-developed characters get me every time. This little gem is not to be missed.
Pub. Date: April 2014