The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.
We are not quite novels.
We are not quite short stories.
In the end, we are collected works.
A. J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died; his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history; and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Chief Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward him; from Ismay, his sister-in-law, who is hell-bent on saving A.J. from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who persists in taking the ferry to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.'s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, he can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.
And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It's a small package, though large in weight—an unexpected arrival that gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn't take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J., for the determined sales rep Amelia to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light, for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.'s world. Or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn't see coming.
He's 39, semi introverted, lives a bookish life and he is set in his ways. He lost his wife and that is hard.
A.J. Fikry is a widower. He owns a bookstore that he and his wife had tended to with sweet and utter care. It was their baby. Now he is alone and finds himself more often than not looking a little too deep into the liquor glass to deal with his loss. He doesn’t catch or understands flirtatious moves towards him. He isn’t ready for it yet. It takes him a few years after someone leaves a package at his bookstore, which changes everything, till he sees the world with different eyes. His thoughts are documented in snippets before the chapters as you read this novel.
"Methinks I have grown soft in middle age. But me-also-thinks my latter-day reaction speaks to the necessity of encountering stories at precisely the right time in our lives. 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." -A.J.F.
…..sweet and so true.
Although this may sound like a depressing read, it actually isn’t. It is written with lightheartedness in a comical way. And I get it. I sympathize with A.J. Fikry. It's the end of being young and that's the truth...most people struggle with that in some way or another. At that point it is sometimes difficult to see and appreciate that there is life after.
A.J. Fikry’s life does get better. It does get sweeter. And it’s a tender heartwarming read. I went into it blindly and enjoyed its comical take and the message.