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Search tags: gabrielle-zevin
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review 2017-09-10 21:28
Awful!
Young Jane Young - Gabrielle Zevin

After reading 'The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry' (which I adored and recommend), I was very excited to see Zevin was coming out with a new book. Usually I do not follow authors to the point where I read whatever they publish next (unless it's a series or the topic is something that gets my attention) but I made an exception since this sounded quite interesting. A young woman (Aviva) has an affair with a married Congressman and it becomes a whole big scandal until the events of 9/11. The book tells the story from the various women who are involved in and around the scandal (including Aviva herself, the Congressman's wife, Aviva's mother, etc.). 

 

It sounded like an interesting premise and it begins very well with the POV of Aviva's mother, Rachel. We skip back and forth to the time period of Aviva confessing the affair to her mother and the "present" where Rachel deals with trying to date here and there after her divorce from Aviva's dad, Mike. Here we get the background of what happened and the fallout from the affair.

 

Then the book quickly goes downhill. I hate multiple point of view stories. I really can't stand it when authors switch between first, second and third person. There's also a section that tells the story via emails and another section that's a "choose your own adventure" style of storytelling. I can appreciate telling the story of a scandal like this from the different viewpoints of the people involved and I thought it was interesting that Zevin chose to tell it from the women's POV (the men such as Aviva's father Mike and the Congressman appear but they're minor characters).

 

I thought perhaps this was a book that was going to have to wait longer to read this (like wait for it in paperback) since I thought I wouldn't be in the mood for a "fictional political scandal" type of book. That may play a part of it but I honestly don't think it's very good and don't understand the high ratings. It also annoys me there are story threads that are left hanging (there's an election at the very end and that's it--we don't know the results). To be fair something like the outcome of that election isn't particularly necessary to the story but it seemed like this was a book of a lot of things I hate in terms of reading.

 

Borrowed from the library and I'm quite glad that's how I read it. Maybe it just wasn't for me but I'd still recommend 'Fikry' which has been out in paperback for awhile. 

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review 2017-09-05 21:05
Young Jane Young - Gabrielle Zevin

I felt such sorrow for both the mother and the daughter in this highly entertaining book. A mother who was part of a nationwide scandal, who in MHO was sent to the called out and sent to the guillotine even though she was not the only person engaged in this scandal. However, that does seem to be real life. And, a daughter dealing with her mother's (hidden to her) past as it involves her and her beginnings.

I sped through this book, an enjoyable, entertaining and sometime irritable (some characters and the pointed fingers) story. 

I also think this would make a great YA, which it may already be, but I enjoyed it and read it as an adult book.

Thanks to Algonquin Books and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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review 2017-08-21 15:31
Storied Life
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin

A slight whimsical novel that encapsulates the important moments in the life of an over-educated curmudgeonly bookseller who unexpectedly meets the love of his life, a child to raise and complications that open up his hermetic island existence. 

 

A lovely book about a man who loves words and stories and the people who are part of his life. It's a little too heavy on the literary references -- but the storytelling itself has a light touch and is crafted in a way that foregrounds the beautifully limned characters and thoughtful plot twists. Reminds me in some ways of the careful crafting that goes into John Irving's books, but with a shorter path to the resolution. 

 

A great light but meaningful read for people who love bookstores and words. For readers who may not be familiar with the literary references, the book may feel a little ponderous. 

Source: nednote.com
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review 2017-06-20 15:10
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry ★★☆☆☆
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin

I sort of liked this book, until the 88% mark, at which the narrative took a turn that I found unredeemably distasteful. Until then, my thoughts about the book: This is a mildly interesting, if a little maudlin, romance about a grumpy lover of literary fiction (AJ) who is saved by love for the amazingly well-behaved and highly intelligent orphan (Maya) and the quirky bookseller (Amy). There’s an obvious bad guy caricature in the successful author (Daniel), who is a womanizing drunk, and his long-suffering and understandably bitter wife (Ismay) is AJ’s dead wife’s sister. The entire book (even the essay penned by one of the characters) is written in present tense, which serves no purpose other than to annoy me, but at least it’s in third person. None of the plot twists or big reveals were especially clever or surprising. Altogether, a three-star read, even with the long, drawn-out drama of the final chapters, which I suppose are meant to have the reader going through boxes of kleenexes. Or pressed linen handkerchiefs, given the fondness for vintage clothes.

 

I’m burying the part that dropped this into the 2 star range for me under spoiler tags: 

The backstory of what happened to Maya’s mother. Not that she was a fan of Daniel’s writing, or that they slept together and she got pregnant, or that he refused to acknowledge any responsibility for it, or that he never seemed concerned about her or his daughter. That’s just the tired old trope that goes along with his womanizing drunken author caricature. It was the dismissive way the narrative treated her. First the slut-shaming, that “she knew what she was doing” in sleeping with a married man, then excusing Ismay’s culpability in her death as it was understandably painful that she had to deal with the slut asking for money for her husband’s bastard child, when his own wife kept miscarrying and was cash-poor because all her money was invested in their fancy house. So Ismay steals a valuable book from AJ, then knowingly puts the young woman at risk of criminal charges by giving her unsellable stolen property to sell. Then she just shrugs and tells her to get lost when the girl finds out. So she (rightly) feels guilty that the desperate young woman committed suicide and her orphaned child was left in a bookstore, but then is absolved with the logic of, oh, well, it turned out for the best, since Maya had a pretty good life being raised by AJ instead of her own mother, and is credited for “saving” AJ’s life by giving him a reason to stop being a self-pitying drunk. “The End”, as far as the dead husband-thieving slut is concerned. Then we get another 50 minutes of glurge where AJ sells the book that contributed to Maya’s mother’s death, so he has the money to cover medical treatment, then rambles on about life and love and lessons for his daughter while he’s dying. Maya never finds out the true story of her mother, because it’s better to conceal her godmother’s selfish cruelty than for her to know something of the woman who birthed her and tried her best to care for her for the first two years of her life. Because it all turned out for the best, right?

(spoiler show)

 

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library. Scott Brick gives a fine performance. I picked this book up on the recommendation of a co-worker, who loved it.

 

Previous Updates:

 

6/19/17 52% http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1572298/the-storied-life-of-aj-fikry-52

 

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text 2017-06-19 14:33
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry: 52%
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin

The dating scenes are kind of funny, but he's so mismatched with them that it's pretty implausible that there would be subsequent dates with the same women, let alone sex. 

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