September 24, 2016
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (Review)
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
First published: 2014
Add it: Goodreads, Book Depository
To put it shortly - I was not impressed. And I really expected to be! I like sweet, touching, feel-good books about how people become their better selves through a series of unlikely events. And I thought that The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry would be something like The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. It aspired to but it wasn't even close.
So the story tells about the life of the titular A.J. Fikry, a bookshop owner, who is going through a tough period in his life after his wife's death. Everything changes when he finds a girl left in his bookshop the night before her mother commits suicide. Then, of course, he can't bear to part with the girl, adopts her and she grows up in a bookshop and becomes a wonderful nerd, just like her new father. So what can go wrong with such a sweet plot? Well, everything.
The writing is kinda sketchy and pretty obvious. You cannot help rolling your eyes at some social situations, wondering how dumb everybody must be to behave like that. Things happen episodically and fast, and I guess we should be thankful for that because not everybody has enough patience to read 200 more pages of awkward, non-charming courting full of sloppy literary references. Some moments are so intentionally tear-jerking that I got really pissed off. I mean, I like to cry over a book, but only because it's naturally and beautifully sad, not because the author had decided to cram a lot of tragic stuff and stupid pathos on three pages.
There are a couple of nice twists in the plot, and that's why it's still two stars, but overall the time you'll spend following the 2-dimensional characters is just not worth it.
In my book: A notoriously unsuccessful attempt for a touching and sweet novel.