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Monday, June 23, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Firky: A Novel

What a charming read that blew me away. This is The Storied Life of A.J. Firky by Gabrielle Zevin.

Alice Island has just one bookstore--Island Books, run by a surly gentleman by the name of A.J. Firky. He once owned the bookstore with his wife, Nicole, a native of the island, but she died tragically one evening trying to save a deer. One night after he passes out from his usual too-much-to-drink, his prized possession disappears from his home. Then a few days later a baby is abandoned in his bookstore. A.J. finds himself learning how to let go of his resentments and give to something greater than himself. Only he doesn't know how deep this will soon run.

Bottom line up front: I adored this book with my whole heart and soul. This is one of the most beautiful, lovely, whimsical, fantastical, sweet, genuine stories I have read in so long. I felt as though I was on a magic carpet ride reading this book. I found myself smiling and giggling and overjoyed at the prospect of coming back to it again and again. It was so wonderful.

It's hard not to be completely drawn to A.J. and everyone else in his life. At times things are curiously mischievous yet always grounded in reality. A.J. starts off as sullen and grouchy but, as the pages turn, we realize he is a man who has had his heart broken in a million little pieces and just doesn't know how to put it back together again. That's where Maya comes in. She shows up and changes A.J. for the better, so much so that watching his life come together made me clap my hands with glee. A.J. is a part of a community, and these are people I so want to know and to live with and to have part of my life.

I didn't want this book to end. I found it utterly amazing, looking back, how much occured in the beginning of the book that wound up at the end telling the whole tale so comprehensively. Zevin is a wonderful writer who spins a yarn thoughtfully and carefully and with great love for her protagonist and supporting characters. I am in love with the Firky world.

Hard copy only below.

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