Sunday, April 30, 2023

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

In a book where people share their incredibly precise book tastes, I'll start this review by saying I don't like when books exhaustingly reference other literary works because it seems lazy, like they're bringing up specific stories to say, "Yeah... like that."

At the same time, I kind of love these books because literature is how I relate to people. What's your favorite book? What's the last book you read? What required reading did you actually like? What book disappointed you and why?

So getting to know characters this way is like Cliffs Notes. And since this book used short stories? I felt like I was back in college in the best way.

I read this book in about four hours. My mom loaned me her copy and once I started, I couldn't stop. I fell asleep reading it---not a commentary on the story itself---and finished it as soon as I woke up.

Initially, I disliked the massive timeline jumps. It was hard to orient the action, especially paired with the frequent and temporary jumps between points of view. But everything fit together like puzzle pieces, so I think it worked well at the end. The time jumps were especially nice once I reached the end, otherwise I would have been a blubbering mess. Moreso than I actually was.

In general, I prefer books with more character detail, which this book lacks and I think reinforces my theory that leaning so heavily on literary references gets lazy. I could fill in the blanks only because I knew the stories, because I don't think AJ's notes were enough to orient readers unfamiliar with the referenced works.

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