The Chetek Area Book Club will meet for an approximately hour-long discussion of “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” by award-winning novelist and screenwriter Gabrielle Zevin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27, at Calhoun Memorial Library.
Published in 2014, “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry,” topped the New York Times bestseller list for months and prompted translation into 30 different languages. The novel’s popularity rests in its authentic tone and relatable everyday characters who inhabit the small community of Alice Island.
A struggling bookstore located on an island may appear, at first, a dull setting for any story. However, over the course of a bit more than 250 pages, a man is tragically widowed, a priceless book is stolen, a baby is abandoned, a young woman commits suicide, another woman suffers a fifth miscarriage and a philandering husband gets his just desserts. Yet, none of these events create an ongoing crisis. Life continues and improves; crimes and mysteries are solved.
The protagonist, A.J. Fikry, a still youngish man, exhibits the annoying characteristics of a man twice his age. He is curt, stubborn, persnickety and, sometimes, rude. Of course, his sister-in-law, Ismay, and Knightley publishing rep, Amelia Loman, along with toddler Maya bring a bright new perspective to A.J. Fikry’s life.
The literary allusions and Fikry’s reviews of short stories will entice most readers to keep turning the pages. The bits of romance, criminal intrigue and good advice, “…the chicken pox vaccine is not optional…” and “Sometimes books don’t find us until the right time,” make the novel an easy but thoughtful read.
“Booklist,” a publication of the American Library Association, offers a brief review and synopsis of the novel: “In this sweet, uplifting homage to bookstores, Zevin perfectly captures the joy of connecting people and books . . . Filled with interesting characters, a deep knowledge of bookselling, wonderful critiques of classic titles, and very funny depictions of book clubs and author events, this will prove irresistible to book lovers everywhere.”
“The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” is available through MORE, Wisconsin’s digital library system.
No fees or commitments are required to join the Chetek Area Book Club. Snowbirds and individuals interested in discussing particular selections are welcome. The list of monthly selections remaining for 2021 include: “The Inheritance of Loss,” “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” “Hamnet: A Novel of the Plague,” and “Bucking the Sun: A Novel.” If interested, call Debbie Skozek at 815-861-9141.