In The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, we meet A.J. Fikry, a curmudgeonly bookstore owner. A.J. lives on a small island called Alice and runs Island Bookstore. He is a widower, and he’s not altogether likeable at the beginning of the book. He’s rude to a publisher’s sales lady, a theft occurs, he meets a local Police officer who becomes a friend, and he ends up adopting a little girl almost by accident. His life changes in many ways.
I am not quite sure how I felt about this book. It has been on my TBR list for a long time. I received it as a birthday present, and I was pleased to finally give it a go. It left me feeling strangely unsatisfied.
I tried listing things I did not like about it:
1) A.J.’s sister-in-law and what she did;
2) how quickly time passes and how things are glossed over in the book; and
3) the ending.
Then I tried listing things I liked about it:
1) the cop;
2) how each chapter was introduced with a literary note and different books were mentioned (it made me scramble to look things up online); and
3) how A.J. changes (as a person) for the better.
It reads fairly quickly, but I never felt like I got to know any of the characters in depth. I’m not even certain I can say it was well-written. It felt superficial and different. Maybe that was it – it tried too hard to be different. I liked that it made you think about and perhaps remember different books. It made you want to read some of the books that were mentioned. The pacing of the story always felt rushed to me. The storyline would jump forward in time several years at a clip. I didn’t care for that. We never got to savor or enjoy anything in a deeper, more meaningful way. Even the “bad” parts zipped by too quickly. When I started this book, I wasn’t bowled over by it and found myself putting it aside for days at a time. I had to actually make myself finish it. When a book leaves me that uninspired, I guess I didn’t like it that well after all. It just didn’t do it for me.