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The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin Summary Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry


Plot

AJ Fikry is a black guy who lives on an island off the coast of Massachusetts called Alice Island. I think it's supposed to be around Nantucket but this island is full of black people, like if you scooped up Jamaica and plopped it down next to Martha's Vineyard.


Fikry owns a little bookstore called Island Books. Fikry is grouchy because his wife Nic died and he has gone without good sex for some time, which I think would make any reasonable person grouchy. Fikry discovers that a book called "Tamerlane", which is worth tens of thousands of dollars, has gone missing. He calls his friend the police chief Lambiase, but Lambiase can't do anything about it, which is about what you'd expect from someone whose name sounds distinctly like "lame-ass".

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Then Fikry finds a black baby at his doorstep with a note from the mother, saying she thought it was a good idea to abandon her black baby in a bookstore so she would have something to read to pass the time. Black baby's name is Maya.


Fikry, who is very grumpy and shows no sign of caring about anyone, immediately wants to adopt Maya. Maya looks at Fikry and tell him she loves him and that melts some of his grumpiness. The social worker who comes to the island says that families who want to foster a child have to go through a rigorous screening process. When Fikry says he wants to foster Maya, the social worker says, "Ok." This is totally, totally unrealistic and makes no sense.


They find the body of Maya's mother, Marian Wallace, drowned in the ocean. She apparently killed herself, without explanation. Either that, or she was a terrible swimmer, ha, ha!


AJ's sister in law Ismay is about to give birth to a baby but her v_gina malfunctions and the baby is a reject. AJ goes to the hospital and sees her and she tries to kiss and make out with him. I guess she wants to get started immediately on making another one but why doesn't she use her husband for that? It turns out she hates her husband. More on that later.


People ask AJ if Maya is really his child because Maya is not as black as AJ. This offends AJ.


Amelia Loman, a rep for a publisher, gives AJ a book called The Late Bloomer which makes AJ cry. AJ now cries over a book, showing how sensitive he has become--theme time! The book tells the story of loss, which AJ can relate to, since he lost his wife Nic.


AJ, with his newfound sensitivity, realizes he wants to bone Amelia. He was really mean to her the first time he met her, but now that he has become sensitive, he realizes he wants to copulate with her. He invites her to the island on the pretext of an author lecture. He even invites her to dinner but she tells him she is engaged to marry someone else. The rest of this book is basically the story of AJ's efforts to bone her.


AJ tells Amelia how The Late Bloomer reminds him of the death of his wife. He shares his vulnerable side with someone else. See how sensitive AJ has become?


AJ wants to get to know Amelia better but fears "they won't be compatible in bed". I don't know if that means that AJ worries he can't get an erection, or if he thinks Amelia's v_gina will smell bad, but he's definitely thinking about sex.


AJ's friend the chief of police Lambiase sets AJ up on a series of dates. The first date is with a woman AJ does not like although he does note she is wearing a very nice pushup bra that makes her breasts stick out.


The second woman is named Rosie and AJ bones her but Rosie doesn't like the fact that AJ is a book snob so she dumps him--right after they have sex, heh heh.


Amelia tells AJ that she broke up with her fiance because she is attracted to AJ. They talk about books all the time and have book orgasms together and that means a lot to her. She had AJ over to her house and after dinner invites him to her bedroom to have sex, even though it is their first date.


I like how in literature women are always pro-active when it comes to sex, always the one to initiate. Unfortunately such passages make me laugh because we know that when it comes to real life, the opposite is always true. How many women invite men to sleep with them on the first date? Plenty, but only if you read literature.


AJ and Amelia get married, presumably after having more sex and even more book orgasms.


Suddenly, we get an unexpected data dump from Ismay, AJ's sister in law. It turns out that Maya, AJ's adopted daughter, is actually the bastard child of Ismay's husband, Daniel. Ismay knew this because Maya's mother, Marian Wallace, came to Ismay and told her this. Daniel says that Maya can't be his child because he only slept with Marian once. Evidently Daniel never took sex education, heh heh.

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Characters

A.J. Fikry: AJ is the grumpy owner of a bookstore called Island Books on a small island off the coast of Massachusetts. He is grumpy because his wife died. When baby Maya lands on his doorstep, he starts becoming sensitive. Eventually he becomes sensitive enough to date Amelia (see below). Then he dies. See what being sensitive will get you?

 Ismay: Ismay is AJ's sister in law. She hates her husband Daniel because he boned another woman and squirted a bastard baby into her. Later, when he conveniently dies, she encourages Lambiase (see below) to bone her. By the way, her name is a lot like Dismay, isn't it?

 Nic: AJ's dead wife. I wonder if her name is short for nicotine.

 Amelia: Amelia is a book rep for a publishing house. AJ falls for her, they start dating, he bones her, and they get married. Amelia was originally going to marry another guy, but the other guy didn't like books like AJ did, and Amelia realized she couldn't have the same book orgasms with him that she could with AJ.

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Themes

Literature snobs experience book orgasms. Book snobs get orgasms just talking about books or bookstores. Amelia had a massive orgasm at the end of the story just thinking about how "holy" Island Books was to her. She also dumped her boyfriend because he couldn't have the same book orgasms that AJ could give her talking about books. Girls who are book snobs are easy to score with if you've read well.

Wives are happy to adopt bastards arising from adultery. If you're married to a woman and you bone another chick and get her pregnant, your wife will be happy to adopt your bastard child, even though is it a constant reminder of your infidelity. Really. This is how Ismay was acting, and it sounds 100% disconnected from reality. But, hey, it's a theme of this book, so there it is.

Good sex wipes away crimes. Ismay committed a major crime by stealing the Tamberlane but Lambiase doesn't mind because she has been giving him such good sex. Sometimes good sex can wipe away major crimes, if you're sleeping with the chief of police.

 Women demand sex on the first date if you give good book orgasms. Amelia demanded sex from AJ on the first date because he had given her such good book orgasms over the past few months. They talked about books in their snobbish, high-brow way that excited them. Amelia held the occupation of bookseller as one of the most important on the planet, providing indispensible culture to the unwashed masses. That's a book snob.

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Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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