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

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Title: The Storied Life of AJ Fikry

Author: Gabrielle Zevin

Publication Date: April 1, 2014

Genre: Contemporary/Literary Fiction

Overview: A.J. Fikry is a crabby middle-aged man with a not-quite-failing bookstore, a crumbling social life, and a chip on his shoulder. He’s just lost his wife, one of his few friends has just died, and he’s on the verge of giving himself cirrhosis. Just when things seem to be ready to really fall apart, a woman leaves a baby in his bookstore. Her name is Maya and, for some reason, Fikry can’t seem to give her up. He proceeds to adopt her, and, in the process he changes the small town he lives in forever.


For Fans Of: I’m not really sure. I’ll get back to you on this one.


I’m diverging from my usual format for this review because I’m not sure it fits this book. Zevin has created an artful work. I’d suggest reading her interview with NPR for some of the background in why it was written in its particular style.


I really enjoyed Fikry, but was also left a little saddened by it. It was often very funny, touching, and relatable. Fikry, I think, speaks to the crabby book nerd in us all and Maya is raised in much the same way as I believe many book nerds want to raise their children. Her prose is very well written and the plot is well crafted, if a little slow and, at times, surprisingly predictable.


It’s formed into little snapshots of Fikry’s life, jumping one year to the next without really always connecting the time in between. Fikry’s development as a character is almost more hinted at than shown. It was a bit sad, almost, that we don’t get to see the in-between moments of their life. The format almost denies any real showing of how Fikry changes. It’s interesting. At times I loved it and I often was left wanting more.


Maya is an interesting little girl. It was fun and perhaps the most translatable way I have seen a little girl’s narration done in a while. It was odd, at times, to see her as a child of ten and fifteen. Her speech patterns and thought patterns were often very much the same as Fikry’s (without the cynicism). It wasn’t wholly unbelievable, just a little strange. She was very adult at ten.


The novel was very funny, but at the beginning it was almost too aware of itself. I was surprised by Fikry’s monologue of sorts when his wife passed. It is much better towards the end. Just a bit overly aware at the beginning.

Rating: 4


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