Book Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Fiction
Lusters: ✼ ✼ ✼ ✼ ✼[ 5/5 | Character Build-up: 4/5 | Execution: 5/5 | Writing Style: 5/5 ]
Header picture source: [x] | Edits by: me
WHAT I HAVE TO SAY
This book has been sitting on my digital library for quite some time now. I decided to read it because of its quirky cover. The red typography got me.
When I first started reading it, I was kind of bland, especially because I have read an action-packed Young Adult trilogy, Legend by Mari Lu. But then, what got me going was who the characters were, their literary lives and the authors once-in-a-while dark side stories and obviously charming way of writing.
And oh, the story opened with a mention of the persnickety little bookstore and you could only imagine my delight visualizing it in my mind.
The story starts with a Amelia Loman going to Alice Island. She likes painting her nails so I kind of liked her in an instant. And I was drawn to her because
Her talents also include multitasking, selecting the right wine at dinner (and the coordinating skill, tending friends who’ve had too much to drink), houseplants, strays, and other lost causes.
She meets up with a bitter widow bookstore owner named A.J. Fikry. (The book is about A.J., but when the story started, it’s all from Amelia’s point of view. That’s what I found weird about this book, you can read how everybody feels. It’s written in an omniscient view and I feel like I can go through any of the character’s head any time.) So, Amelia is trying to sell Fikry books and is having a hard time doing so. APparently, Fikry hates postapocalyptic settings, magic realism, crossbred, young adult, chick lits, poetry and any book with vampires in it. He likes short stories and would like his books to be nonfiction.
His attitude can be explained. He lost Nic, the love of his life. But everything changes when a little baby was dropped of in his bookstore. He became a transformed man after that. I thought the transformation was quite drastic. But, the book is fast-paced that it covered the years the girl, whom he named Maya, has been a toddler to graduating high school. And it was only 180 pages in my iBook, fourth smallest font in Iowan. (Gawd, I just revealed my iBook preference to you. Throw in Sepia too.)
So, anyway, the story revolved about how this A.J. turned into the best version of himself again when Maya arrived and when he hooked up with Amy. Yes, the Amy — or Amelia — the sales rep whom he had spites with the first time they met. Don’t worry though the entire book is not a love story. They even had a funny, sexy, sad conversation in the hospital hours before A.J. has to undergo brain surgery. I would love to embed the convo here, but please ready. It’s on the last pages of the book. Sorry, spoilers here. He had cancer. Now, that part. That part had me crying. Gawd, I always cry reading books. I never thought this book was this… disheartening.
And oh, I just remembered how he proposed. It’s right after the book signing of the first book they liked, The Late Bloomer. Meeting the author was disappointing. The author puked after the whole event, in front of Amy’s mother, who, by the way, has to ride two trains and board a boat just to get there. This scene reminded me of ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ when they finally met a-hole writer. Turns out that the author of The Late Bloomer wasn’t actually the real one. He was a fake. Some other woman wrote it and only Amy found out. I don’t think he told A.J. about it.
Anyway, the story revolved about how A.J. contributed much to the community, shaped their culture by reading paperbacks (He disliked e-books). It is a story of friendship too. He is kind of close with his ex-wife’s sister and that sister’s husband who is a writer too. He was best friends with the cop who ended up being Maya’s godfather. He got this cop and his colleagues to go start a book club.
And everything was explained. The lost Tamerlane. How the people in A.J.’s life were connected. How Maya’s real mother did the abandonment and how Maya interpreted it (for a creative writing project). It was all poignant. and melancholic. and wistful.
Pardon me, I have to go to Spotify and play some sad music.
I have favorite lines from this book that I decided to keep this in my library if I want to read it again someday. Here’s one:
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.
Oh, I forgot to tell you how he proposed.
It was only him and Amy. He just threw the box to Amy, but unfortunately, he aimed too high and it hit Amy’s head that she had to say ‘fuck’. But, she said yes anyway.
And did I mention Maya and A.J. (and Amy eventually) lived above the bookstore? And I swear to produce a fantastic nerd like Maya. Someday soon.
Just read the book please.
Have you read ‘The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry’?
Did you like it? I’m dying to know what you think about it. Talk to me or I’ll go crazy.