The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

A.J. Fikry is a bookseller and a cantankerous, persnickety one at that. Since his beloved wife Nic died in a car accident, “cantankerous” and “persnickety” have earned capital letters. If you looked up the term “literary curmudgeon”, you would, of course, find A.J’s picture. The only thing he enjoys (aside from short stories) is matching books with readers.

On New England’s fictional Alice Island, Island Books is a necessary fixture despite its owner, but when a precocious two-year old girl named Maya is left alone in the store one evening, A.J.’s world changes dramatically.

It’s fun, adorable, filled with both life and death, and as unpredictable as is real life. Every surprise is a delight and never illogical. That being said, one thing sums up Zevin’s precision of storytelling:

“A.J. nods out of politeness, but he doesn’t believe in random acts. He is a reader, and what he believes in is narrative construction. If a gun appears in act one, that gun had better go off by act three.”

There are no true loose ends, but rather they are neatly finished, in a quiet way or at the top of Zevin’s lungs.

Perfect for a book club or a quick, enjoyable read, filled with interesting and lovable characters in amusing situations with oft-charming turns of fate, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – being honest with myself – is one book I wish I had written.

But I didn’t, so I want to read more by Gabrielle Zevin.

Thanks to my friend and former editor, Vidya Pradhan, and to my best friend, Bonnie J. Becker, for the recommendation.

Check out Joanne Wilkinson’s Booklist review here.