Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Published: April 1, 2014 by Algonquin Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Hardcover: 260 pages
My Rating: 3 1/2 stars
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“The things we respond to at twenty are not necessarily the same things we will respond to at forty and vice versa. This is true in books and also in life.” – A.J.F.
A. J. Fikry is the cantankerous 39 year old owner of a bookstore on fictional Alice Island, off the coast of Massachusetts. He’s still mourning the loss of his wife Nic who died in a car accident 2 years ago. He lives above the bookstore and has done a fine job of keeping people at arms length. That is until quirky Knightley Press sales rep, Amelia, makes her seasonal trek to Alice Island by ferry to promote that season’s book list. To further complicate A. J.’s life, a mysterious “package” arrives on his doorstep that changes his life forever.
In between each chapter there is a brief summary of a book that has meaning to that chapter. They are little love letters to his daughter. Each character in this story is fully realized and I found myself routing for A.J. Fikry, hoping everything turns out well for him. The author has a way of putting the reader right in the story, and I could imagine visiting the bookstore and this fictional town. There are also several intertwining subplots that really enhance the story.
There are even some funny moments like when A. J.’s mother buys everyone in the family an eReader, he goes on and on about how the eReader will be the death of bookstores everywhere and that he “would rather you have bought my daughter something less destructive like a crack pipe.”
I think this book will appeal to fans of A Man Called Ove or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It is a charming, well written, heartfelt story about finding the love you were meant to be with and finding human connection. It’s about leaving your mark on this world and it’s a celebration of books and reading.
“We aren’t the things we collect, acquire, read. We are, for as long as we are here, only love. The things we loved. The people we loved. And these, I think these really do live on.”