I wasn’t sure what I was going to get into when starting this book. A friend got me a copy of it after seeing that I’d read Silas Marner and said that I’d probably enjoy this one, too. I enjoyed Elliot’s classic novel, so there was no reason to not give The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry a chance from a recommendation like that.
Is this a modern day retelling of Silas Marner? Not exactly, and that’s what I think is one of the great things about Zevin’s book. There are shared elements to the basic character relationships, but it goes above and beyond them, creating a story all its own, with characters that worked their way into my heart and ideas about the books, as well as the book world, that many readers of all sorts can relate to.
Another thing I liked is that at the beginning of each chapter is a quick message from A.J. to Maya about a short story he wants her to read. Some I’ve read. Others I haven’t. I’ll be going back through to write them down and read myself. I’m always welcome to further reading while reading books. It’s just one of the ways to expand my reading list.
While a quick read, it tugs at various emotions, ideas about life, and opinions about books. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry won me over early on and toward the end I didn’t want to get to the last chapter, I wanted it to keep going. I can only hope that the next book by Zevin that I pick up will give me a similar feeling.
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About the Author:
Gabrielle Zevin has published six novels. Her debut, Margarettown, was a selection of the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program. The Hole We’re In was on Entertainment Weekly’s Must List and was a New York Times Editor’s Choice. Entertainment Weekly wrote, “Every day newspaper articles chronicle families battered by the recession, circling the drain in unemployment and debt or scraping by with minimum-wage jobs. But no novel has truly captured that struggle until now.” Publishers Weekly called the novel “a Corrections for our recessionary times.”
Of all her books, she is probably best known for the young adult novel Elsewhere. Elsewhere, an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book, was nominated for a Quill Award and received the Borders Original Voices Award. The book has been translated into over twenty languages. Of Elsewhere, the New York Times Book Review wrote, “Every so often a book comes along with a premise so fresh and arresting it seems to exist in a category all its own… Elsewhere, by Gabrielle Zevin, is such a book.”
She is the screenwriter of Conversations with Other Women (Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Eckhart) for which she received an Independent Spirit Award Nomination. In 2009, she and director Hans Canosa adapted her novel Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac (ALA Best Books for Young Adults) into the Japanese film, Dareka ga Watashi ni Kiss wo Shita. She has also written for the New York Times Book Review and NPR’s All Things Considered. She began her writing career at age fourteen as a music critic for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.
Zevin is a graduate of Harvard University. After many years on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, she recently moved to Silver Lake, Los Angeles.
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