Wednesday, December 31, 2014


A.J. is a thirty-something small town bookstore owner whose wife has recently died in a car accident.  A.J. has always been a bit persnickety, but now he is downright rude, especially to a publisher’s rep named Amelia, aka Amy, who has replaced the now deceased long-time rep with whom A.J. had somewhat of a rapport.  The disappearance of a rare book valued at around half a million dollars depresses A.J. even further.  Then an abandoned toddler named Maya comes along, and A.J. decides to adopt the child rather than give her up to foster care.  I suppose this decision proves that A.J. is not completely heartless, but I found it to be way out of character.  The mystery of the missing book was certainly not spellbinding, but the novel does have its highlights, sprinkled among all the warm and fuzzy moments.  Everyone except A.J. and Amy’s mother is just too perfect.  Even A.J.’s best friend, a cop, becomes an avid reader and organizes his own book club.  Really?  A.J. provides the only saltiness to a book that is overly sweet, like a cupcake that’s heavy on the icing.  A.J. is definitely a book snob, with a preference for short stories, and I will say that I enjoyed all of A.J.’s opinions on books and authors and especially his commentary on a different short story at the beginning of each chapter.  The writing style, is not particularly elegant, with no particularly profound passages or seismic revelations, but the unpretentious style fits the comfy storyline.  One reviewer likened this novel to THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY, and I had pretty much the same opinion of that book.  I need to stay away from novels that promise too much quaintness and not enough grit.

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