if you are walking down the street of some small town and you see an untidy little book shop nestled between some boutique for old rich women and a great grey square bank, do you feel that the universe might collapse in on itself if you don't go inside and possibly even buy something?
do you think that stories are more than just little black squiggles on a page? that they have the power to change us...to move us...to connect us in ways we desperately need?
if your answer to any of these is "yes," then i have just finished a book that you should read.
"the storied life of a.j. fikry" was an unexpected gift to me from a friend, and it turns out that one of the best gifts imaginable is a book you didn't know existed. further, it turns out that said book can captivate your imagination and, if the timing is right, do far more than entertain you for a few hours. heck, it even turns out that it might just rekindle a love for reading that has been stifled a bit under the demands of a smartphone life.
it's sort of a scratchy-swish. that's the sound of a real book when a real person turns a real page. i fell back in love with that sound over the last two days as i read this delightful little novel (novella?) by gabrielle zevin. and more than the sound, it was the story. the words. the nerdy literary references. the characters. the twist. the idea of living over a bookstore. the familiar sense of living a broken life, hoping with everything for some kind of redemption. it was the whole feel of the book, more like a van gogh, and less like a norman rockwell. oh, don't get me wrong, it wasn't just a nebulous mess of ambiguity; it felt real enough...almost too real at times. but it was more than just a snapshot of someone's possible story. reading "the storied of life of a.j. fikry" was an exercise in feeling something wonderful, something terribly sad, and daringly hopeful.
did i mention i loved it?
not only do i highly recommend it because it is charming, funny, and compelling, but because it caused me to pick up another book the second i put it down. it made me want to read again. and i needed that. i agree with fikry, the sometimes cantankerous bookstore owner, when he says, "sometimes books don't find us until the right time."