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


Viking Canada | ARC, 258 pages
April 1st, 2014
Adult Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I’ve always find it difficult to express my thoughts when I love a book as much as I did A.J. Fikry. I often wondered if skipping the review would be far more beneficial rather than make a haphazard attempt. What if writing a poorly constructed review would exact the opposite effect? What if the novel becomes a watered-down version of the original instead of the actual brilliant work?

I started off this review with a small tale of how I got a hold of a copy (borrowed); a few hundred words later, I’ve not made a single reference to the novel itself. So I scrapped it and started over again. My second attempt included a long-winded synopsis of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. And then I realized how quickly I bungled it all up; what I wrote was counterproductive. Who wants to read a longer version of the synopsis? I know I don’t. Besides, A.J. Fikry needs to be experienced first-hand. And in the same token, if I tell you what or how I felt about him, you might end up writing him off. You might say, “the book is not for me”. That may be true, but what if I tell you that as a reader and lover of books in general, A.J. Fikry is one character that you can’t afford to miss out? Though, I’m sure you’ve heard that before. How many times have we gushed and praised a book because of its character? I can’t even begin to count.

So how do I sell you this book? Shall I tell you how brilliant it is? Come to think of it, the word, “brilliant” is a booby trap in itself. Anytime I have the urge to use that word, I try to stuff it down. I think it’s a word that shouldn’t be used lightly, so I try to use it as stingily as possible. How about I let the rating speak for itself?  I know that’s a cop-out way of shoving a book in your face, but it’s far easier to rate a book than write something worthy the rating it’s been given.

How about this?

It’s a story about grief, and finding the ways to move on. It’s also about blown chances, and opportunities to make up for them; it’s finding a family when you least expect it. It’s a story about a man whom most of us could find something in common. A.J. is a bookstore owner, and a meticulously well-read person. You will love him for his taste in books; you will hate him for his over-all snooty attitude towards YA in general, but most of all, you will understand him no matter what his opinions were. Prepare to laugh, to be in awe; to be inspired. It’s got a bit of a quirky mystery; it’s got romance. And when there’s romance, heartbreak is sure to follow.

I’m not going to tell you to read this book. For once, I want to keep this to myself. Mine. Mine. Mine.

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