THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY

Gabrielle Zevin

A New York Times Bestseller, a #1 Indie Next Pick, and a #1 LibraryReads Selection

A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner of Island Books, has recently endured some tough years: his wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and his prized possession—a rare edition of Poe poems—has been stolen. Over time, he has given up on people, and even the books in his store, instead of offering solace, are yet another reminder of a world that is changing too rapidly. Until a most unexpected occurrence gives him the chance to make his life over and see things anew.

more …

A New York Times Bestseller, a #1 Indie Next Pick, and a #1 LibraryReads Selection

A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner of Island Books, has recently endured some tough years: his wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and his prized possession—a rare edition of Poe poems—has been stolen. Over time, he has given up on people, and even the books in his store, instead of offering solace, are yet another reminder of a world that is changing too rapidly. Until a most unexpected occurrence gives him the chance to make his life over and see things anew.

Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books—an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

less …
  • Algonquin Books
  • Paperback
  • December 2014
  • 288 Pages
  • 9781616204518

Buy the Book

$14.95

indies Bookstore indies Bookstore
  • Algonquin Books
  • Hardcover
  • April 2014
  • 288 Pages
  • 9781616203214

Buy the Book

$24.95

indies Bookstore indies Bookstore

About Gabrielle Zevin

Gabrielle Zevin has published eight novels for adults and young adults, including an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book, Elsewhere. Her novels have been translated into more than twenty languages. She is the screenwriter of Conversations with Other Women, for which she received an Independent Spirit Award nomination. She has also written for the New York Times Book Review and NPR’s All Things Considered. She lives in Los Angeles.

Praise

Entertaining . . . Engaging and funny.” —The Washington Post

This novel has humor, romance, a touch of suspense, but most of all love—love of books and bookish people and, really, all of humanity in its imperfect glory.” —Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child

A wonderful, moving, endearing story of redemption and transformation that will sing in your heart for a very, very long time.” —Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

Readers who delighted in Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and Jessica Brockmole’s Letters from Skye will be equally captivated by this adult novel by a popular YA author about a life of books, redemption, and second chances.—Library Journal, starred review

Discussion Questions

Consider the setting. Why do you think Gabrielle Zevin chooses to set the book on an island? How does the island setting reflect A.J.’s character?

Each chapter begins with a description of a short story. Discuss some of the ways the stories relate to the chapters with which they are paired. Is A.J. creating a canon for Maya? How does the book itself function as a kind of canon? If these are A.J.’s favorites, what do they say about A.J. as a reader and as a man?

Lambiase moves from an occasional or nonreader, to a reader, to a bookseller. How do you think becoming a reader changes him? Consider the scene where he decides not to confront Ismay about the backpack. Do you think Lambiase’s reaction is different than it would have been if he hadn’t taken up reading?

At one point, Maya speculates that perhaps “your whole life is determined by what store you get left in.” Is it the people or the place that makes the difference?

When did you become aware that Leon Friedman might be an imposter? What did you make of Leonora Ferris’s reasons for hiring him?

Compare Maya’s “fiction” about the last day of her mother’s life to Ismay’s version. Which do you consider to be more accurate and why?

How do you think the arrival of the e-reader is related to the denouement of the story? Is A.J. a man who cannot exist in a world with e-books? What do you think of e-books? Do you prefer reading in e- or on paper?

At one point, A.J. asks Maya, “Is a twist less satisfying if you know it’s coming? Is a twist that you can’t predict symptomatic of bad construction?” What do you think of this statement in view of the plot of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry? Did you guess who Maya’s father was? If so, what were the clues?

The author chooses to end the novel with a new sales rep coming to an Island Books that is no longer owned by A.J. What do you make of this ending?

What do you think the future holds for physical books and bookstores?