The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin, was a book sale purchase at a library I visited recently to do some work between meetings, rather than return to my office for an hour, only to turn around and drive back to within 5 miles of where I was. I picked up a few books at that sale, more than I usually do at my own library, only because I look at the offerings so often at my library, many of them are the same. I think it may also be true that the same small group of people donate books to the library book sale, and their tastes are well represented there, and may not always align with my own. chick lit is fine, now and again, but romance novels are a bridge too far
A.J. is a bookstore owner on a small island off the coast of my own Massachusetts. Its not quite Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard, but its close enough to either to make it clear that’s what the author is talking about. maybe elizabeth islands? its even quieter there A.J. is a smart guy, he just hasn’t had the best of luck. The story follows A.J. through his ups and downs, and while they aren’t earth shattering to us as readers, I’m sure these changes are dramatic enough for A.J.
What makes Fikry’s story interesting enough to warrant a book about it, even one which refers to his life as ‘storied’, is the unlikeliness of more than one of these things happening to the same person, especially when that person lives on a small island off the New England coast. Even more unlikely is how these events all seem to be connected somehow.
Zevin has crafted a sweet, tightly knit, and interesting story about a quiet, book-loving, thoughtful man. But its just good, not great. I’m not sure I know whats missing, but I did find myself reading a few minutes extra to find out what happens next, so it was an enjoyable read, just one that I ultimately didn’t find what I was looking for in.