The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is a great literary dessert, wonderfully baked with ingredients that are put together just right.
A tale about the power of stories, it’s built with literary allusions from mixed genres. Add a few love stories, throw in a dash of poetry, a love of the writing process, and a little literary criticism and you have the sweet tale of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry.
It’s a simple story (or really a collection of shorts), hiding a deeper tale about the love of community, and the impact that literature has in bringing people together, while ultimately shaping their lives.
Zevin sometimes appears to bring things together too perfectly, occasionally tugging at our emotions a bit too predictably, when suddenly she lets the reader know that she thinks they’re intelligent enough to recognize this and still enjoy reading for the sake of the story. (I suspect that this technique will prevent some individuals from seeing the deeper story, much like Maya’s story was overlooked for it’s depth).
Zevin skillfully and openly foreshadows much of the story from the very beginning, yet manages to add a twist of mystery, and surprise the reader several times along the way. Without conveying the snobbery often apparent in much of contemporary and classic fiction, she manages to weave a deep tale of everyday people discovering the power of fiction, while enabling the reader to see that fiction is often more truthful than it first appears.
This is a book that everyone should read at least once, and one that I intend to read again. I’m rating it five stars not because it’s a perfect literary masterpiece, but because it precisely achieves its intended aim. I read a lot of books, but this is the first book I’ve read in a long time that I didn’t want to put down simply because of the joy of reading it! Zevin has reminded me why I love books and why I long to read them. She has rekindled my romance with reading, made me crave the re-reading of some literary masterpieces I love, while giving me a hunger to read the ones I’ve yet to devour.
A tasty, fattening literary dish served with much delight!