Gabrielle Zevin, the popular YA author of Elsewhere, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac and the Birthright series, has a wonderful new adult novel out this month. Although there is nothing specifically teen about The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, this is the kind of book that anyone who loves bookstores and books will simply fall in love with.
I’ve heard many readers echo my own experience–I picked this up and read it all in one sitting. The writing is so captivating that the short chapters just flow one into the next. The island setting, the love story, the father-daughter relationship, it all works.
Fikry is both #1 on the LibraryReads list and the #1 Indie Next Pick for April. I have to admit that it hasn’t touched my library shelves yet because adults in the community keep checking it out, one after another. I can’t wait to give the students a try!
ZEVIN, Gabrielle. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. 272p. Algonquin. Apr. 2014. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781616203214.
Fans of Zevin’s YA books may be drawn to this charming story about all things bookish. A. J. Fikry, a man in his 40s, lives above his bookstore on a tourist island (think Martha’s Vineyard). Island Books is unabashedly literary, despite the tourist trade, and A. J. himself is a big fan of the short story. As the novel begins, he is mourning the death of his wife, who was his partner in the bookstore. He makes friends with the local police chief, Lambiase, who gradually moves from reading only the occasional Jeffrey Deaver novel to leading the Chief’s Choice bookgroup. A. J. also develops a friendship with one of the publishers’ reps. Most surprising of all, he becomes the accidental father of an abandoned child, Maya, and raises her to become—surprise, surprise—a reader and a writer. The short stories that A. J. discusses briefly at the beginning of each chapter, in notes to Maya, will likely be familiar to teens—“The Diamond as Big as the Ritz,” The Luck of Roaring Camp,” “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” and “The Tell-Tale Heart,” among others. Each one sets the tone, in an odd way, for the chapter that follows. Readers who like slightly old-fashioned books and who are literary minded will settle into this book with a happy sigh and revel in the references to books they have read—or will want to read.—Sarah Flowers, formerly of Santa Clara County Library, CA