* CONTAINS SPOILERS
Do perfect books exist? Is it possible to read a book and not find anything wrong with it? I’m in no way as well-read as the characters in The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, so I’m uncertain how to answer these questions. But I simply loved this book!
When we meet the owner of Island Books, A.J. Fikry, we learn fairly quickly he’s a cranky guy and it’s difficult to have a pleasant conversation with him even about books. However, there are a few reasons behind his nasty attitude. Not only is A.J. mourning his dead wife, business for the bookstore is bad and his beloved, rare book of Poe poems has been stolen. As a result, A.J. cuts himself off from other people, drinks himself into blackouts every night and is on the verge of giving up on both (horror!) books and life. But guess what A.J.? Life has some funny plans in store for you! When a toddler is abandoned at his bookstore, A.J.’s world begins to take some beautiful turns. He decides to adopt the charming little tot, then seek baby help from his sister-in-law and her writer husband. He becomes friends with a police officer on the island and re-evaluates his un-gentlemanlike behaviour towards Amelia, an eccentric and cheerful publishing house rep. In letting people back into his life, A.J. discovers second chances are possible. Even for a guy like him.
Everything you will hear about this book is true: it’s lighthearted, warm and will speak to the hearts and minds of book nerds across the universe. From the short stories selected to introduce each chapter to A.J.’s crass opinions on genres, writers, readers, etc. to arguments over e-readers, this book is bursting at the binding with funny literary references that will make you smile and nod your head.
Honestly, I don’t have anything bad to say about the book. Sometimes the conversation between the characters is a little too cute, but that’s it!
Without a doubt, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I love how Gabrielle Zevin celebrates books, writers and reading in this book, as well as pokes fun at some of the snobbish and silly aspects of bookish life. Even if you haven’t read the books referred to in the story, you will understand the jokes. My favourite character was A.J. because even though he was so brusque, he had great deadpan observations, and I enjoyed reading about his journey to happiness. I don’t know for sure if perfect books exist, but this book was pretty darn perfect to me. Maybe that’s all that counts!
NOTE: Thanks to Penguin Canada, I received this ARC through NetGalley.