I love this book so much! I know Gabrielle Zevin’s work from her young adult novels, so I thought I’d give her new adult novel a try. I’m so glad I did! It made me laugh out loud. It made my cry, and it made me think deeply about my own reading life.
A.J. Fikry is a solitary island bookstore owner who has very particular tastes in books and people. After the death of his wife, he slowly withdraws from everything until two people alter the course of his life: Amelia, a quirky publisher rep and Maya, a precocious toddler who is left for him on his bookstore floor.
I cared deeply about the characters as their stories developed and entwined. A fun aspect of the book for reading enthusiasts is that all of the characters lead lives that are connected to literature in some way. For example, Lambiase, the chief of police, starts a crime novel book club for law enforcement enthusiasts.
The book is brimming with warmth and humor. In my favorite passage, A.J. is talking to Jenny, a social worker, about his wish to keep Maya:
“Love you,” Maya says.
“Yes, she keeps saying that,” A.J. says. “I warned her about giving love that hasn’t yet been earned, but honestly, I think it’s the influence of that insidious Elmo. He loves everyone, you know?”
“I’m familiar with Elmo,” Jenny says (p. 68).
If you’re looking for a rich summer read, one that will make you laugh and cry and one that will give you the chance to reflect on your own connection to literature, then I’d like to introduce you to my new friend: A.J. Fikry.