The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

A.J.A. J. Fikry, owns and operates a charming bookstore, on Alice Island. It is the kind that rarely exists today, having given way to the monster-sized edifices that are home to booksellers today. Fikry is well read, the quintessential bookstore owner; he knows authors and book styles, can recommend books to his customers based on their likes and dislikes. He has his own particular fixed likes and dislikes, often quoting from books to make a point. His life is defined by and through books. He communicates through their words with messages that he passes on as wise tidbits of knowledge.
A. J. is still grieving over the loss of his wife, killed in an accident, and he resorts too often to liquor as a pain reliever. He is feisty and cantankerous and doesn’t seem the type to “make friends and influence people” very easily. As a matter of fact, when Amelia (Amy), appears in his store to present the winter book list of Knightly Publishers, he is rude and indifferent, even when he learns she is replacing the former salesperson who has died. That night, however, truly saddened by the death of that man, he binge drinks, and when he wakes up from his drunken stupor, he finds that his most valuable book, Tamerlane, a book that was to guarantee his secure retirement, has disappeared. Then he discovers a child that has been abandoned in his store. The mother is nowhere to be found. All that he finds is a note entrusting Maya to his care. Maya seems older and wiser than her years. Her influence on him is enormous.
The story that evolves, as he and the child bond and Amelia becomes more and more of a steady visitor, is very tender, somewhat romantic and also humorous, although it does seem to be hiding behind a mask that seems indifferent, simplistic and even mundane, at times. Emotions are quite matter-of-factly laid bare, leaving no doubt as to how the characters feel as they help to make each other more complete. It makes the story even more appealing and comfortable to read.
Human feelings and reactions are explored from the vantage point of adults and from the eye of a precocious, bright, rather well-adjusted child, who has been raised very well, rather unexpectedly, by this inexperienced, insecure man, lonely and somewhat lost without his wife who used to operate the Alice Island bookstore with him. The fictitious Alice Island is a rather appealing place, reminiscent of Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard (for those who know of Cape Cod and the Islands), which can also be reached by traveling on a ferry that leaves from Hyannis, MA. Life is laid back and unhurried on both the real and the fictitious island.
This is a beautiful story about love, loss, relationships, friendships, and even bias is briefly and subtly explored. Race seems to be a tiny underlying subject, but I am not sure why, unless the lack of emphasis is to indicate and reinforce the idea that the race of a person is meaningless, as color has no bearing on any of the relationships, nor should it. The characters exist outside the barriers that are often presented when race becomes the focus rather than the abstract. They simply interact and exist in this imaginary storybook kind of a world, almost free from modern day contrivances.
The story is guided by quotes from books as A. J. leaves notes around for those he loves. It concentrates on the development of beautiful, sincere friendships and a natural love of parent and child coupled with a warm sense of devotion and loyalty. These traits assume far more importance than money, the loss of material things, the revelation of what could be life-changing secrets and even facing illness and death. Rather it dwells on the beauty within people, their ability to face their demons and their ability to forgive and forget. What seems like a simple story is really quite profound as secrets are revealed to the reader and mysteries are solved. Still, life is ultimately dealt with and the tale comes to a warm and satisfying conclusion.


About omasvoice

Who am I? I am you. I am everyone out there who loves to read and discuss and voice an opinion!
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Books for Adults, Fiction. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

  1. JoAnn says:

    I loved this book!

  2. omasvoice says:

    It was a wonderful story.

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