The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was recommended to me by a friend. I was itching to get it as soon as I read the synopsis. I was so glad that I had stumbled upon a 50% discount coupon on Kobo because it would justify the purchase given the number of books on my "currently reading" shelf.
And I was not disappointed. On the contrary, it was absolutely amazing! It's the kind of book that's meant for book lovers (that's me!). Apart from the novel, I was treated to thirteen other short stories (recommendations by the main character, A.J. Fikry to his daughter, Maya Tamerlane Fikry). I immediately looked up Lamb to the Slaughter (the short story mentioned in the first chapter) and was rewarded with a rollicking-good perfect crime short story by Roald Dahl. This book was such a treat. There are stories nested within the story and it's just lovely, just lovely. A.J. Fikry would frown over the fact that I read this as an eBook but at least Amelia Loman (read the book to appreciate who she is) has my back.
It moves me on so many levels: it moves me as a reader with varied tastes (sometimes wondering if she's a snob or not; well, no, because I actually read the Twilight series, a fact which all my snotty reader friends find very amusing), it moves me as a person who works in the book industry (well, eBook industry...it's the content that matters, right?), and it moves me as a mother and wife muddling along through life trying to make the best of it (and trying really hard to make readers of her children!).
It's heart-rending too. It manages to combine different genres into one book (making me laugh, cry and stand by with bated breath). Overall, it is a stand-out piece of literary fiction. A.J. Fikry's age is even in the same range as mine, painting the portrait of a curmudgeon of a digital migrant who leans more toward the analog. Not that it matters (just to me, I guess). If it has to boil down to one sentence, it's this: I highly recommend this book. To end, let me just tell you a little story of the three days that it took me to read this book. I bought it after work, in the evening, and started reading it while waiting for my husband to pick me up from work. I was hooked and couldn't put it down. I read Lamb to the Slaughter that same evening and fell in love with Maya too. On the second day, I couldn't believe how fast Maya had grown and how Chief Lambiase had grown on me (I already liked him from the start) while waiting for our turn at the Pedia's office in St. Luke's, Quezon City. On the third day, I was so glad that the author had not left out the story written by Maya and had actually reproduced it just as it was submitted to her teacher, Mr. Balboni. I was randomly crying in Megamall (where we celebrated Father's Day: Sunday Mass at the 5th floor, lunch at Pollo Loco and shopping for various stuff for my husband) because letting go is just not one of my strong suits. I remember when I read the last word which was at that exact moment when we were buying liempo to bring to Sunday dinner with my Dad at my brother's house. And I sighed. Thank you Gabrielle Zevin for a perfect reading weekend. And thank you, Honey, for bringing this book to my attention.
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