“The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin, is the story of a bookstore and the events that lead to A.J. owning it, and his life from that point on.
Key characters in the plot are A.J. the bookseller, his first and second wife, a 2 year old little girl left in his shop with a note, and the New England Bookstore, It is obvious that the author, Gabrielle Zevin, knows the bookselling business and bookstores, from the sales representatives selling to them, the store owners and right down to the nuts and bolts of the store.
A.J. drinks too much grieving the loss of his first wife. He is opinionated about customer’s literary tastes and seems in the beginning to be a man with few customers and even fewer friends. His life changes for the better when a 2-year-old girl is left in his store with a note attached to her, about the same time his most valuable possession, a first edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s “Tamerlane” worth as much as $500,000, is stolen. Even with the financial loss, and his recent years of grieving, the little girl changes his life for the better.
About this same time, he meets with a publisher’s lady sales rep and that leads to even more life changing events. The tone of the romance that follows is like the conversations that take place throughout the book and seem to be laced with book references. A.J. claims to have a disdain for book clubs, cute little events, and gimmicks but the book is full of how these fit into his life.
A.J.’s relationship with his daughter Maya is special and is something we didn’t get enough of and the sudden grim changes that happen to some of the characters do feed some narrative that the author may have wanted more than we did.
The focus is on love and the joy of living with characters we care for and with humor that compliments the plot.
“You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?”
"We aren’t the things we collect, acquire, read. We are, for as long as we are here, only love. The things we loved. The people we loved. And these, I think these really do live on”
“We are not quite novels.
We are not quite short stories.
In the end, we are collected works.” "Remember, Maya: the things we respond to at twenty are not necessarily the same things we will respond to at forty and vice versa. This is true in books and also in life.”