‘The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry’ and ‘A Touch of Splendor’

Book Reviews by Cos Barnes

book ajI loved reading Gabrielle Zevin’s “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.” One reason, I suppose, is that I love to haunt bookstores. I was immediately taken with the bookstore owner, A.J. Fikry is an unhappy widower whose business is failing, who drinks too much, lives on frozen dinners and loves books, not people.

The plot develops quickly as Fikry has his most prized possession stolen, a rare collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry, then is bequeathed a baby girl whom he adopts and teaches to read.

Theirs is a wonderful pairing, and as fatherhood changes Fikry, more people come into the bookstore. A mass of intriguing characters, including the police chief, officers, a new wife for Fikry, a former sister-in-law and other customers all come in and out.

Fikry loves the authentic book and when his mother brings e-readers for Christmas, he is aghast; however,  as much as they go against his grain, sickness makes him appreciate their handiness.

My book club was solidly for this book.

book lil hopkinsLila Hopkins, author of the memoir, “A Touch of Splendor,” covers the period between the years 1934-44 in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where her father was pastor of First Baptist Church.

A poignant time in our history, Hopkins describes it as “when a devastating depression faced the country and a fearful war loomed.” Yet, her family provided unconditional love and the feeling of complete security as her parents, she and her three sisters and one brother settled into the neighborhood. It was a time without cell phones, televisions, microwaves or jet planes.

Readers meet many interesting Las Cruces’ inhabitants: the doctor, the vet, the police chief, church youth group members, and Leonard, who helps her family with chores. They do the things children did then: roller skate, pick cotton, explore unchartered waters and learn by doing.


Barnes has been writing for OutreachNC since the first publication in 2010 and currently participates in three book clubs. She can be reached at info@outreachnc.com.