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Looking for a great summer read? The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin was one of those books that I've been thinking about reading for sometime and now that I've read it, I find myself thinking about reading it again.

A. J. Fikry is the owner of Island Books, a bookstore on Alice Island off the coast of Massachusetts, reachable only by ferry from the main land. His wife died in an auto accident and now he feels responsible for her death. She had been two months pregnant at the time. He is lonely, depressed and is drinking heavily.

One day, Amelia Loman, a sales representative for a book publisher, makes her first sales call to Island Books to sell the winter book line. She finds Fikry to be a persnickety man, selling a limited variety of books, literary works for the most part, on course to lose his store, and wonders why she wasted her time traveling to his shop. He finds Amelia bohemian in appearance and lacking the insight and experience to sell books. He is not the least bit interested in her opinion and the books she has to recommend.

A. J.'s life continues on its downward spiral with the theft of his nest egg, an extremely rare collection of poems by Edgar Allan Poe. A. J. had planned on selling the book when the market was right. There is little chance the police with ever recover his lost treasure.  Several months later, still extremely depressed, A. J. is surprised to find that a two-year-old girl has been left in his shop with a note from the mother asking the owner of the bookstore to raise this very smart little girl "in a place with books".

For reasons unknown, A. J. feels that raising young Maya is something he is meant to do. She becomes a voracious reader. A. J. tries to expose her to the important things in life and before long, he is once again a happy man. Amelia continues to visit the shop, encouraging Mr. Fikry to buy the newest book offerings. Over her many visits to the store something has changed between A. J. and Amelia. He sees something in her, and she in him.

Throughout the book are letters written from A. J. to Maya. Each letter focuses on one of his favorite short stories, why he liked it and his perception about life and other things.

Perfectly described on the book jacket, "The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love".

Recommended by Pam Wiseman


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