The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
(Summary taken from the first page of the book) "A.J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his 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."
As many of you may know, I do not read book summaries before I read books. I like the surprise, and I like to start reading a book and just let it take me on the journey. This book was very different from my expectations. I definitely did not expect the story that unfolded before me. That's what I love about reading; I love the different places it takes me and the surprises along the way. Ms. Zevin had me hooked from the start. I loved her writing style. Her descriptions are very well done, and her character development is so good. I liked Amelia from the start. I did not, however, like A.J. at the beginning of the book. What an ornery and rude man! I felt bad for Amelia because she seemed so nice and was just trying to do her job. I loved her quirkiness and her eccentric personality and dress. The descriptions of the bookstore and the island were well done and drew me in. I love bookstores, have I ever mentioned that? I would love to go see A.J.'s if it were really there. I also fell in love with Ismay and Lambiase. They were great supporting characters. I also liked Maya. She was so smart! The growth of the characters throughout the book was one of my favorite parts. I really enjoyed watching them as they grew and evolved. A.J., especially, grew into a character that I could actually like. He still had some stubborn and frustrating moments, but overall, I liked him as a character at the end of the book. I wish I could go to Lambiase's book club. As a reader, I enjoyed hearing about all the literature. Although, there were times I felt dumb because I hadn't heard of a lot of the books that were mentioned. I had read some of them, so that gave me hope that I'm not completely uninformed. I liked the hint of mystery in this book; it added an interesting turn of events. I laughed and I cried. This book has something for every reader. I ended up really enjoying this book. I felt like Alice Island was my home, and the people there were lifelong friends.
Unfortunately, I didn't love the last page of the book. It wasn't too pertinent to the story, so I still enjoyed the book as a whole, but I didn't think it really fit. I found it to be mildly offensive, and it seemed like it was thrown in more for shock value, or something. I'm not sure, but I wish she had left a bunch of that last page out. There is language in this book, especially the "f" word. Yes, there are a bunch of them. Boo. There is other profanity, but not a ton. There are "intimacy" scenes, innuendos, and discussions about it. There is a character who cheats on his wife, and it is discussed. There is also a suicide.
Rating: R (Not appropriate for younger readers) Language, especially the "f" word, and "intimacy" scenes, innuendos, and discussions, along with a man who cheats on his wife. There is a fatal car accident as well.
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.