Before I blog about ANYTHING, I’d like to say this….
WE WON! WE WON! (for 75% of Americans who have no clue of which I speak, it’s the fucking Women’s World Cup, and America BEAT THE PANTS off Australia.)
lil Jenna Marbles action.
Team XX USA (not because they’re X-Rated, but because, homogametic, mother fuckers!) looked at the koala-hugging Aussies, and thought to themselves…
And because they don’t really have any petroleum to share, and, apparently, this is a thing in Australia…we went for domination via their balls…of soccer.
The fuck?! Looks like something the scientist from South Park would create.
I know I’ve told you about the superduperamazing book club I moderate with my oh so cool,
It’s this fantastic book club full of people who are or want to be active, love to read, and DRINK. It’s basically heaven. There is a Goodreads page, mainly for voting, a tumblr for announcements, a Facebook page for discussion, and hashtag #ranreadrummed for various and sundry social media posts.
This month, we read The Storied Life of AJ Fikry.
On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.
A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.
And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.
*really long blurb, right?!
What I thought about the book:
A little of this..
when I read a quote like this…
“The most annoying thing about it is that once a person gives a shit about one thing, he finds he has to start giving a shit about everything.”
A little like this…
When I read quotes like this…
And a little like this….
at the end.
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry is all about balance. It’s life and death, sure. It’s penance and redemption, it’s acceptance and regret and validation. It’s hope. My G-d, is it ever hope. Hope in truly awful circumstances. Hope prevailing over gut-twisting, heart-wrenching pain and loss. Hope that is written with such authorial conviction that the pages practically bleed with it.
Gabrielle Zevin could’ve written 300 pages of maudlin introspection, given the premise, but what she did instead was to find rainbows where one would normally find rage. It’s not completely sunny, but it’s no settlement of storm clouds above Mount Doom, either.
The characters are people I’d want to befriend in real life. A surly, snobby bookseller, a happy and genuinely caring cop, a book publicist/seller who loves life and people, a little girl who is whip-smart and worth every word given to her in this book, and even the sad, but redeemable school teacher with a mountain sized chip on her shoulder. They’re just so, so much.
The twists and turns the book takes are wholly unexpected and they never feel like they’re written in just because Zevin needed something to propel the narrative forward.
It should be noted that the audiobook is narrated beautifully (and works with whispersync complete with discounted title price) by Scott Brick.
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry is a beautiful story filled with hope and wonder, without becoming overly saccharine or too self-centered. The Storied Life of AJ Fikry captures the reader from page one and proceeds to tie their consciousness with bands of prose with which it holds the reader captive until the final characters of print.
Five hopeful stars.
The recipe inspired by the book:
Ok, so this recipe isn’t as much inspired by the book (as the cocktails in the book are bloody mary-ish in nature or wine) as it is a celebration of the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of We Ran, We Read, We Rummed!
So, of course, there’s RUM in it. Also, beer. Because the
Today? Piña Cerveza Colada!
This cocktail isn’t the sticky-sweet vaguely beerish beerita that is so common pretty much everywhere. This cocktail is rich with the bold flavor of Modelo, the tang of fresh pineapple, and the warm tropical loveliness of Malibu! Rimmed with a coconut flake and salt rim, it’s the perfect drink to serve friends at a cookout!
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by @GabrielleZevin and this month’s #ranreadrummed drink, the PINA…
Pina Cerveza Colada
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Ingredients (3 cocktails or 2 if you like M)
- 1 can of Modelo
- 3 oz Malibu (if you like less, add less!)
- 2 cups chopped pineapple, RIPE
- 1 cup crushed ice
- squeeze of lime
- flaked coconut and margarita salt for the rim
- cherries as garnish
blend half the Modelo with the rum, ice, and pineapple
pour into two or three glasses (rimmed or not)
top with remaining Modelo, stir gently with the straw
drink responsibly (preferably at home, in your backyard, with no open flames, and no chances for public nudity.)