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.

  • Love you review, J.! and another 5 star read?! Have to add it to my wishlist at once! 🙂

  • I just added this book to my tbr!! Oh I hear you. I always find it the hardest to talk about the books I loved the most… And I want to keep my favorites to myself too! (I’m an only child who never learnt to share 😉 Awww, can’t wait to read this book~

  • purplebook6

    I’m just like you when I read some book that leaves such a big impression on me. It’s easy to write rant reviews, but it’s so hard to write reviews for books you really liked, because you wanna “make” others pick them up and like it. Either way, you did a good job 🙂

  • You’re right sometimes it’s really difficult to write a review for a book we love because we can say everything or nothing at all and it’s difficult to know where to start and where to stop. BUt I think you’re right sometimes the rating means everything and I confess that a review like that means a lot more sometimes. Thanks, I’ll have to check this one out.

  • Woah, what a beautiful review Joy! It sounds like this book really meant something to you and it was powerful and I love how your review communicated just that. Thank you for sharing with us.

  • I love detailed, specific reviews but sometimes, these reviews are even more powerful. When a book renders you speechless because, despite the power of words, the emotions in your heart don’t translate to the screen? I get that. If a book makes you feel like that – if it makes you write a review like this – you can bet I’ll be picking it up as soon as I can. 🙂

  • Ack. You keep reading these books that I have not heard of before 😀 But I do think this sounds interesting. Though not for me yet. Gah. Damn it. I need to start reading adult books, hih (A) BUT ANYWAY. I am so happy that you loved this book 😀 I love the feeling when you just love a book so so much. <3 It's the best. Amazing review Joy. Thank you for sharing. <3

  • You scrapped two previous versions of your review – hilarious. I do that sometimes. I always find it to be the hardest when I write a 5 star or a 3 star review. Because you’re right – how do you adequately describe just how fabulous it was and do it any kind of real justice. I’m always afraid I’ll screw the pooch. But hey by describing your fear you’ve put across just how great it was for you. Excellent review dear.

  • Isn’t it funny how when we love a book so much we get nervous to write a review for it because we want to make sure to express how much we loved it and why everyone should try it but are worried we won’t be able to? I love when books can do that to you and of course hate it too because it makes life hard for us reviewers LOL!

    Fantastic review, I can tell how much you loved this one.

  • Love the theme of grief and how individuals manage to move on, it does sound brilliant and looking into it more.