There is not much to say about this book. I loved everything about it except the cover which looks like it was designed for a religious tract. The only explanation I can come up with for this dull cover is a misplaced sense of irony.
"The Storied Life Of A. J. Fikry" tells of how a bereaved bookstore owner's life is saved when a baby girl is left in his store. It is not the plot that matters, although it is artfully constructed and satisfyingly complete, but the emotional journey of the characters and how that journey is mediated by their shared experience of books.
Now that description makes the book sound as dull as its cover, which is to say that it gives a completely misleading impression of what it feels like to read this book.
It feels like coming home, like spending time with a good friend, like curling up on the sofa of an independent bookstore with a book you've fallen in love with from the first page. The book is packed with humour, mostly of the self-deprecating kind, and more than a little sadness, mostly of the "why do I read books that make me cry in public?" kind.
It's about love, reading books, friendship, talking about books, fatherhood, selling books, marriage, sharing books and about living a life where our feelings for the people we love are amplified and given voice by the books we read.
It runs a little towards the sentimental in a Jimmy Stewart in "Harvey" kind of way but in a self-aware way that gave me permission to relax and enjoy it.
The book is beautifully read by Scott Brick, who never puts a foot wrong. Click on the SoundCloud link below to listen to him read.
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