THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY is just that kind of book and more. Like the title indicates, it is the story of A.J. Fikry's life. A quiet life he lives on Alice Island, off the coast of Massachusetts where he owns a bookstore in the center of the small town. A widower, A.J. keeps mostly to himself and since his wife, Nicole, died in a tragic car accident shortly before the story begins he's become even more withdrawn and even grumpy. He's pleasant enough to his customers but his heart just doesn't seem to be in it any longer.
A.J. Fikry is basically a book snob who thinks Literary Fiction is the only worthwhile genre. He's very set in his ways and doesn't see that changing. That is until two important things happen to him within hours of each other. After a night of self-medicating with alcohol, he awakes the next morning to find that someone has stolen his most prozed possession. A very rare and valuable collection of Edgar Allan Poe's poems. He always kept it locked in a temperature-controlled glass case in his apartment above the bookstore. He vaguely remembers opening the case in his drunken stupor the previous night - but it is now gone. He literally runs down the street to the local police station to report his theft. Upon returning to the store he is stunned to see that someone has left a baby in his bookstore with a note attached. The note, apparently written by the child's mother, indicates her inability to care for the child any longer and her wish that Maya be raised around books and by book people for various reasons. From that moment on, A.J. Fikry's life has new purpose and changes begin to happen that even Fikry himself could not have imagined.
There were a lot of things I liked about this book. but mostlly it was the many book references and wittiness in the dialogue, especially between A.J. and Amelia, the book seller that made me smile while reading. You can only have that with people who 'get' your personality so I liked and appreciated those exchanges. The characters were fantastic and I loved getting to know each of them and how they fit into A.J.'s life. I also liked that Gabrielle Zevin managed to keep the surprises coming throughout the book. The transformation of A.J. and the friendships he developed were heartwarming and uplifting. He evolved from being a detached, lonely man to a contented man with friends, love and happiness in his life. I thoroughly enjoyed reading A.J.'s story and I also thought it had an ending perfectly suited to the story.
The narrator of this audio book was the highly acclaimed Scott Brick. Though he has narrated many bestsellers, this is only the second audio I've heard him perform, the first being Harlan Coban's SIX YEARS. He has a very distinct voice and method in which he reads, which makes him instantly recognizable. He is a dramatic narrator, which can be a bit distracting at first, however I felt his voice was absolutely perfect for this book. It suited A.J. Fikry's personality to a tea.
I would highly recommend this book, in any form, to other lovers of books and book people. Its a story that will absorb you quickly and you will get lost in it. If you're in a place where you're not quite sure what you want to read next, you should read THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY. It will be a great choice.
THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY (Unabridged Audio Version)
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Narrator: Scott Brick
Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
Published: April 2014
Length: 7 hrs 2 mins