Name:The Collected Work of A. J. Fikry
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Number of Pages:256 (Hardcover)
Published: March 14th 2014 by Little, Brown
AJ Fikry owns a failing bookshop. His wife has just died, in tragic circumstances. His rare and valuable first edition has been stolen. His life is a wreck. Amelia is a book rep, with a big heart, and a lonely life. Maya is the baby who ends up on AJ’s bookshop floor with a note. What happens in the bookshop that changes the lives of these seemingly normal but extraordinary characters? This is the story of how unexpected love can rescue you and bring you back to real life, in a world that you won’t want to leave, with characters that you will come to love. – from Goodreads
I loved this book. It is a story especially for booklovers or anyone who loves bookstores; they’ll smile at the familiar bookish-ness (forgive my made up word) and take the lovely little bookish details to heart.
It’s also a gentle tale of love and life – a relaxing read suitable for anyone searching for an amazing story.
There are book groups, a character who comes to love reading Young Adult, a priceless book which is stolen, and an author visit to the bookstore (which isn’t as straight forward as you would think).
But mostly, this is a story with a lot of heart.
There are many appealing characters.
AJ is great – at first his likes and requirements in terms of books are so very limited you wonder how on earth any book rep will find something to suit his tastes for his shop.
He also provides some comedic moments when, faced with Maya, a baby whom he has no idea how to care for, he resorts to searching online for tips. This made me smile because it’s something that most people will relate to, searching online to find information.
I liked Amelia too, and was willing her and AJ to get together, having bonded over books over a period of time. I really enjoyed Amy and Maya together, and the relationship they develop over time as Maya grows up.
There is a host of other richly-developed characters, including Lambiase, who decides to host a book group for members of the police force whilst also developing a love for Young Adult fiction, and Ismay, AJ’s sister-in-law who is not-so-happily married to well-known author Daniel Parish – not the nicest character you could wish to meet, and that’s putting it mildly.
It is the unexpected arrival of baby Maya which initially helps AJ become more open to the community as various people come forward with helpful childcare advice, but the book also shows how a love of books and reading can bring people together, as when AJ becomes starts to open up again, after losing his wife in tragic circumstances, various reading groups centred around his bookstore spring up and the store grows in popularity, as does it’s proprietor.
The plot delivered some great revelations. I particularly liked the story of the author Leon Friedman, and the twist in that tale. I didn’t actually work out what was going on there, I was totally off on the wrong track (not going to say more, I don’t want to spoil anything!).
The chapters are prefaced by AJ’s thoughts on various literary works and it gradually becomes apparent who these writings are meant for, and why, which is very touching. In this way the story is filled with happiness, but a great deal of sadness too, and I found the latter part of the book to be quite a tear-jerker, which I hadn’t expected when I started out reading.
I feel that whatever I write in a review of this book won’t do justice to just how much I enjoyed reading it. It’s a wonderful, warm, big-hearted emotional read. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves to read, or anyone who just wants a brilliant, lovely story.