The Storied Life of AJ. Fikry is truly a heartwarmer, and a tribute to bookstores and booksellers everywhere. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone.
I liked everything about this book; the story, the characters, the many references to books and stories. Each chapter of the book starts out with a little letter from Fikry to his daughter about a short story he thinks she would like, and tying it in to some fatherly advice.
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.
At the beginning of the book, A.J. is a prickly, grouchy widower on the road to alcoholism. Maya comes along and saves him.
…he feels a vaguely familiar, slightly intolerable bubbling inside him. He wants to laugh out loud or punch a wall. He feels drunk or at least carbonated. Insane. At first he think s this is happiness, but then he determines it’s love. F***ing love, he thinks. What a bother. It’s completely gotten in the way of his plan to drink himself to death, to drive his business to ruin. The most annoying thing about it is that once a person gives a shit about one thing, he finds he has to start giving a shit about everything.
Maya lives a book-lovers dream. She grows up above a bookstore, spending her days reading and helping in the store. Maya’s character struck me as wise beyond her years, and her voice in the story was endearing.
From her vantage point on the floor, people are shoes. In summer, sandals. In the winter, boots. Molly Klock sometimes wears red platform boots up to her knees. A.J. is black sneakers or running shoes. Lambiase wears black dress shoes. Ismay wears colourful flats. Daniel Parish wears brown loafers with a penny in them.
The first way Maya approaches a book is to smell it. She strips the book of its jacket, then holds it up to her face and wraps the boards around her ears. Books typically smell like Daddy’s soap, grass, the sea, the kitchen table and cheese.
She knows that her mother is dead. And she knows that dead is when you go to sleep and you do not wake up. She feels very sorry for her mother because people who don’t wake up can’t go downstairs to the bookstore in the morning.
As you are reading this book, you might think you know what is going to happen, but it is not as predictable as you may think. Sometimes things seem to work out conveniently, but other things may take you by surprise. In short, I’ll just tell you what everyone else is saying- go read this book! It won’t take long. If nothing else, you will feel an overwhelming urge to visit your local independent bookstore, which is always a good thing.
Since I haven’t got anything more to say that hasn’t already been said by other reviewers, I will just leave you with a few more quotes from the book:
In the future, he will rethink his unlocked door policy. It had only occurred to him that someone might steal something, not that someone might leave something.
People tell boring lies about politics, God, and love. You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question: What is your favorite book?
(on e-readers, which does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the writer of this blog) Why should I calm down? I do not like the present. I do not like that thing and certainly not three of that thing in my house. I would rather you have bought my daughter something less destructive like a crack pipe.
No man is an island; every book is a world.
You can read more reviews of this book at Honey, I’m Reading!, One Little Library, What Me Read, Doing Dewey, One More Page, and Reeder Reads. I have read quite a few in recent weeks, so if I forgot you, I’m sorry! You can add yours to the comments below.
I’m curious- do any of you out there know anyone who did not like this book?