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The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

Cover of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

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The irascible A. J. Fikry, owner of Island Books—the only bookstore on Alice Island—has already lost his wife. Now his most prized possession, a rare book, has been stolen from right under his nose in the most embarrassing of circumstances. The store itself, it seems, will be next to go.

One night upon closing, he discovers a toddler in his children's section with a note from her mother pinned to her Elmo doll: "I want Maya to grow up in a place with books and among people who care about such kinds of things. I love her very much, but I can no longer take care of her." A search for Maya's mother, A. J.'s rare book, and good childcare advice ensues, but it doesn't take long for the locals to notice the transformation of both bookstore and owner, something of particular interest to the lovely yet eccentric Knightley Press sales rep, Amelia Loman, who makes the arduous journey to Alice Island thrice each year to pitch her books to the cranky owner.

The irascible A. J. Fikry, owner of Island Books—the only bookstore on Alice Island—has already lost his wife. Now his most prized possession, a rare book, has been stolen from right under his nose in the most embarrassing of circumstances. The store itself, it seems, will be next to go.

One night upon closing, he discovers a toddler in his children's section with a note from her mother pinned to her Elmo doll: "I want Maya to grow up in a place with books and among people who care about such kinds of things. I love her very much, but I can no longer take care of her." A search for Maya's mother, A. J.'s rare book, and good childcare advice ensues, but it doesn't take long for the locals to notice the transformation of both bookstore and owner, something of particular interest to the lovely yet eccentric Knightley Press sales rep, Amelia Loman, who makes the arduous journey to Alice Island thrice each year to pitch her books to the cranky owner.

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • GABRIELLE ZEVIN has published six adult and young adult novels, including Elsewhere, an American Library Association Notable Children's Book, which has been translated in over twenty languages. She is the screenwriter of Conversations with Other Women (starring Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart), for which she received an Independent Spirit Award nomination. She has also written for the New York Times Book Review and NPR's All Things Considered. She lives in Los Angeles.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 20, 2014
    The only thing that’s “storied” in the life of A.J. Fikry, a curmudgeonly independent bookseller, in this funny, sad novel from Zevin (The Hole We’re In), is his obvious love of literature—particularly short stories. Fikry runs Island Books, located on Alice Island, a fictional version of Martha’s Vineyard. It’s a “persnickety little bookstore,” in the words of Amelia Loman, the new sales rep for Knightley Press. Her first meeting with Fikry does not go well. He’s disgruntled by the state of publishing, and bereft because his beloved wife, Nic, recently died in a car accident. Soon after the meeting, he suffers another loss: a rare first edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem Tamerlane (Fikry’s primary retirement asset) goes missing. But then Fikry finds an abandoned toddler in his bookstore with a note saying, “This is Maya. She is twenty-five months old.” Somewhat unbelievably, Maya ends up in his care and, predictably enough, opens the irascible bookseller’s heart. The surprisingly expansive story includes a romance between Fikry and Amelia, and follows Maya to the age of 18 before arriving at a bittersweet denouement. Zevin is a deft writer, clever and witty, and her affection for the book business is obvious. Agent: Doug Stewart, Sterling Lord Literistic.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 26, 2014
    Bookstore owner A.J. Fikry is a bitter curmudgeon, but, as we soon learn, his sour attitude masks deep sadness and loneliness about the death of his wife. The mysterious arrival of a baby girl in A.J.’s shop with a note asking him to care for her brings about events that open his heart to love, hope, and life. Brick’s empathetic narration captures A.J. perfectly in all his cantankerous and tender moods, and particularly when he rhapsodizes over books, in which he finds not only comfort and enjoyment, but a lens through which to interpret life. Brick voices A.J. in a way that sounds entirely natural—for example, when A.J. is trying to work something out, Brick speaks slowly, as though searching for the right words to express his thoughts, and then sounds startled and triumphant as A.J. has a realization. His warm, compassionate, thoughtful reading will draw listeners in throughout this gentle, sweetly satisfying tale. An Algonquin hardcover.

  • Publishers Weekly "Zevin is a deft writer, clever and witty, and her affection for the book business is obvious."
Title Information+
  • Publisher
    HighBridge Company
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The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
Gabrielle Zevin
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