Friday, December 26, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin (author), Scott Brick (narrator)

Highbridge Company, ISBN 9781622313532, April 2014

This is just a wonderful book. So wonderful I briefly imagined sending the author flowers and chocolate in thanks for it.

A.J. Fikry is a grieving widower, owner of Island Books, the bookstore he founded with his wife Nicole. Nicole died in a car accident about an year and a half ago, and A.J. has quietly drinking himself into oblivion. He's just thirty-nine, and it seems he and his bookstore are spiraling down.

And then one more blow comes that may be too much: his one truly valuable rare book, a book he has no love for but thinks of as his retirement plan, is stolen in embarrassing circumstances.

Not long after, he investigates a sound from the bookstore when it's closed, and finds a toddler, with a note from the mother saying she can't care for her daughter and wants her to grow up among books.

A.J. and the little girl, Maya, Nicole's sister Ismay and her husband Daniel, the Knightly Press book rep Amelia Loman, and the local police chief begin to form an improvised family that changes all their lives, but especially A.J.'s and Maya's, and the future of the previously struggling bookstore. It's a family bound together by love of books and literature, and concern and support initially for Maya, and eventually for each other. They read, they talk books, they form book groups, and they cope with all the challenges of life.

The mystery of Maya's mother and why she left Maya in A.J.'s bookstore, runs through the book and is eventually resolved, but it's only a piece of the book, not its point. This is a book about a community of book people, who have room in their lives for the different and the unusual, and for each other's unexpected needs.

Highly recommended.

An interview with Gabrielle Zevin:

I bought this book.

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