The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry [Book Review] #flashbackfriday #fridayfavorite

August 14, 2020

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (cover) Image: right shot of a bookstore's painted red door and window display

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Love Story, Found Family, Family Life

Welcome to Friday Favorite! Today in lieu of reviewing a new release, I  am choosing to revisit an old favorite which I read years before starting this blog. (thanks for the inspiration Sandy’s Book a Day blog!)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


A.J. Fikry lives on a fictional island (Alice Island) off the coast of Massachusetts. The isolated island reflects Fikry’s own mental state as he lives with consuming grief over the loss of his wife to a tragic accident. He’s lonely, drinks to excess, is grumpy and opinionated, and struggles with low book sales in the bookstore that he and his wife bought when they moved to the island. Complicating this already dire situation, Fikry’s most prized and valuable book is stolen, he is rude to a book publisher’s representative, and a baby is abandoned in his bookshop. How will Fikry pull his life together?

My Thoughts:

TL;DR: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is on my lifetime favorites list and gave me a book hangover! It has my favorite themes of found family, books about books, the power of love, and second chances. I recently completed a reread of this story (I rarely reread) and I loved it, even more, the second time!

Plot: In The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, there is never a lull in the plot action! It’s compelling and page-turning (while also being character-driven). We have the mysteries of the stolen book and an abandoned baby, Fikry’s mental health, and a rocky relationship with the publisher’s sales representative. Fikry has problems on many fronts. One aspect that pulls me into a book is a perfect balance of plot-driven and character-driven. This story pulls off that challenging task.

Likable Character: Fikry is a realistic and likable character if you love quirky. Even though he can be brusque and opinionated, he loves the world of words and his books bring him comfort. The abandoned child and the sales representative change his life. Fikry’s most redeeming trait is that he believes in the power of love.

Structure: Each chapter is introduced by a story excerpt and brief words of reflection written to his daughter. These poignant notes to his daughter bind the entire story together.

Themes: This story is an ode to great fiction, the ability of love to make all the difference in a life, and second chances. Other themes include friendship, found family, secrets, grief and loss, the importance of bookstores in the community, finding your soul mate, people helping people, and love of books.

“We aren’t the things we collect, acquire, read. We are, for as long as we are here, only love. The things we loved. The people we love. And these, I think these really do live on.”

Highly Recommended! The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is on my lifetime favorites list and tops my list of books about books! Recommended for all bibliophiles who love a side of romance (closed door); for fans of poignant themes, quirky characters, and heartfelt stories; for readers looking for their next book hangover; for book clubs. I realize that reading is subjective and my favorite book might be your least favorite, but I’m encouraging you to give it a chance because it is representative of books that give me book hangovers!

Bookclub Discussion: One theme I’d love to discuss with a book club is the idea of secrets. Are there times when keeping a secret is the kindest or wisest thing to do? Or should truth always prevail? One secret bothered me and I wonder if it bothered anyone else? I will discuss it in the comments if anyone is interested! It did not affect my rating or overall feeling about the book.

***May contain spoilers***
Content Considerations: a bout of excessive drinking, references to miscarriage and loss of a spouse, grief, cancer, some profanity.

Related: TTT: 10 Favorite Books About Books

My Rating: 5 emotional stars!


The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (cover) Image: a tight view of a bookstore window and a red door

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry Information Here

Meet the Author, Gabrielle Zevin

Author Gabrielle Zevin

GABRIELLE ZEVIN is an internationally bestselling author whose books have sold millions of copies and been translated into over thirty languages.

Her eighth novel, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (2014), spent months on the New York Times Bestseller List, reached #1 on the National Indie Best Seller List, and has been a bestseller all around the world. The Toronto Globe and Mail called the book “a powerful novel about the power of novels.”

Zevin is a graduate of Harvard University. She lives in Los Angeles. Her ninth novel is Young Jane Young.


Is The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry on your TBR or have you read it?

Who loves this like I do?

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

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  1. I enjoyed this though didn’t love it as you do. The early parts of the book, where Fitkry is grumpy, worked better for me. I did like the character of the police officer who starts a bookclub where the members spend most of the time arguing about the detective methods in the books.

  2. I keep putting this on my TBR and then it gets bumped off. I have a copy that I actually took to Florida with me to read by the pool, but never got to it, so it came back home. After reading your wonderful review Carol, I think I need to read it sooner rather than later. I do enjoy grumpy characters that change in the end. They remind me of my husband. 😊

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