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review 2018-04-20 16:11
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This is a really hard review to write. Overall, I liked the book, but it is kind of hard to put into words what I did and did not like. 

I found the book interesting enough. The story was unique in it's overall arch, although it utilized a lot of not-so-creative story concepts (the cheating husband, grumpy old guy who knows sorrow, accidental pregnancy). It was full of overused plot devises, which was annoying, but they were put together in an interesting way. 

It's not that I didn't like the book, but to me it just didn't live up to the hype. That's the problem with books that become really popular. You start getting unrealistic expectations and the thing itself just can't compete. The book was in no way bad, but it felt surprisingly slow-paced despite all of the interesting concepts. 

I did like the focus on short stories and A.J.'s recommendations of them to Maya. I think it was an interesting way to structure the novel by having A.J.'s notes on the story to open each chapter. 

Having said that, it felt like it was trying too hard to appeal to book-lovers. At first it was kind of cool for The Book Thief recommendation to pop up or for Maya to be holding Where the Wild Things Are, but after a while all of the literary references felt strained. Mostly, I just wanted to get on with the story. I absolutely love books, but I don't want to necessarily read a book about how much other people love books. Sometimes it works, such as when fictional, non-existent books are mentioned (The Series of Unfortunate Events) or if real books are used, to have them further the plot of the story (Book Scavenger). This one just kind of made a lot of tangents to discuss books when what I really wanted was to continue the plot and hear the story of this book. 

I think for the most part, I just didn't care about a lot of the characters. Most of them just kind of floated from page to page, letting things happen to them. Tamerlane is stolen. Maya just shows up. Things happen, because that's the way they're written. It felt more like the characters let things happen rather than the characters actually doing anything. 

Also, the characters are annoying woven together. The cast is surprisingly small and they are all connected. I get it's set on an island and it's a symbol for how A.J. isolates himself and all that, but I got tired of hearing about the same characters over and over again. I longed for some side character to pop up for a bit. 

There's a bit of a twist near the end, which was interesting, but I don't think it was enough to "save" the rest of the book. By the end, I was just irritated by the annoying way that everything came together so perfectly and obviously. I wanted something to not work out quite right. But every piece has its place and the tight-knit group of characters stays tight-knit until the end.

Overall, it was a good read, but it was a bit drawn out at times. 
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review 2017-10-19 22:05
Truly Wonderful
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin

Damn, is this book charming. And heartbreaking. It’s been a while since I’ve read a novel that can affect me the way this one did. I didn’t even know a thing about it, which is why I’m very reluctant to say too much about it.


Also, I’m terrible at story summaries.


This book was such an excellent and wonderful surprise. Each chapter is introduced by a title of a short story selected by A.J. Fikry, and he also scribbles down notes for each one. The who and the why for these notes… you’ll find out.


I don’t recall ever reading a book that made me say, “Dammit, this is charming!” so many times. And there were also moments where I felt absolutely devastated. I don’t want to say more for fear of ruining anything.


I know. I haven’t said much about the story. Again, the reason I loved this so much is because I went into it blind. I was intrigued by the idea of chapters being introduced by short story titles and A.J.’s critiques. I am and always will be a lover of short stories, so that’s probably why this book spoke to me so much.


The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is a wonderful achievement. Beautiful, funny, heart-breaking, and painfully honest.


While this book wasn’t published this year, it is my favorite read of 2017. I cannot recommend this enough.


5 stars

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text 2017-10-18 00:30
Reading progress update: I've read 204 out of 272 pages.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin


I was going to refrain from posting another update on this as it would just echo my previous updates about how damned charming this book is.


Screw it.







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text 2017-10-02 02:44
Reading progress update: I've read 162 out of 272 pages.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin

I think I’ve mentioned how charming the damn book is, right? I did, right? Okay, just checking.

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review 2017-10-01 20:31
Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Kevin
Young Jane Young - Gabrielle Zevin

A special thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Heavily influenced by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Zevin tackles slut-shaming in her newest book Young Jane Young and it is glorious!  She examines the double standards, sex scandals, and misogyny that resides not only in politics, but in life.  Women everywhere face these issues and are often silenced from the shame, and the threat of losing everything they have worked so hard for.

Before becoming Jane Young the wedding planner, Aviva Grossman was an ambitious, bright intern with the congressman's office.  Aviva has an affair with her boss, the congressman himself, and blogs about it.  True to life, when the affair is made public, it is Grossman that goes down while the beloved congressman carries on.  Aviva becomes the punchline and butt of many jokes—she is labelled as fat, ugly, and a slut.  She is not employable or dateable and sees no other way out that to change her identity and move away to a remote town in Maine.

On top of running her own event planning business, Jane is also navigating being a single mother to Ruby.  Even though she has started her life over, politics doesn't seem to be out of her system and she decides to run for office.  Unfortunately for Jane, the past catches up with her (the internet is forever) and it is only a matter of time before Ruby discovers who her mother really is/was.  Ruby is the vehicle through which Jane must face not only her past, but Aviva herself.  

Told through the voices of Aviva/Jane, Aviva's mother Rachel, Ruby, and Embeth Levin (the congressman's wife), we hear all sides of the story.  Zevin's characters are not without flaws.  In fact, it is these flaws that drive the story forward and this type of narrative is the perfect vehicle to accomplish this.  She effortlessly moves from past to present without confusion.  Her writing is witty, fresh, and thought provoking.

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