The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin was published in 2014. Here is the blurb from GoodReads:
“On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means. A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly. And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming.”
I enjoyed this book. It’s not earth-shatteringly thought-provoking or anything like that. It’s just not that kind of book. It’s a story about people and their imperfect and shifting lives. It’s a simple love story, tragedy, and whodunnit all rolled into one and yet somehow none of those genres in any pure sense either. As I normally do when I enjoy a book, I liked the characters. More specifically I enjoyed how they talked. The dialogue was awesome and Zevin shows you who all the characters are on the Island through their words. Each new chapter is introduced by AJ’s short reviews of the books he reads and as the story progresses you see how his focus in life shifts. It was unique and I liked that element. It is both a happy and sad story because the book spans quite a few years and as we all know life has its ups and downs. That’s all I can say really; this is a book about life. The ups and downs, joy and heart-break, hope and loss. It was a lovely couple of evenings read.