Title: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Genre: Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 260
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a heart-tugging and enjoyable story about a man overcoming loneliness and finding his tribe. A.J. Fikry is a grumpy, cynical bookseller whose narrow world changes and expands when he adopts an orphaned infant. The baby, Maya, is abandoned in his bookshop with a note asking someone to take care of her.
A.J. doesn’t exactly seem like number-one father material, but Maya opens his heart in a way that is surprising to everybody. It also encourages him to make more of an effort with his neighbors and helps him give love a shot with the awkward, perpetually single Amelia Loman. The story is told in an often tongue-in-cheek, omniscient style that puts a lot of focus on the characters’ individual foibles.
It’s a quick, easy read and the relationship between A.J. and his adopted daughter is charming, as Maya gets older and slowly comes into her own. The supporting characters are also interesting and likable and the inclusion of A.J.’s ‘reviews’ of different short stories adds a unique flavor and further contributes to the book’s themes of storytelling and bibliophilia.
There aren’t a lot of books written anymore in this omniscient style and I liked the way the author did it. It was kind of old-fashioned in a way and it accentuated the book’s particular sense of dry humor. Even though the ending is sad, the ultimate takeaway is positive as it ruminates on the abilities of community and friendship to enliven even the most lonely and isolated of human beings.