CAST: Kunal Nayyar, Lucy Hale, Scott Foley,

DIRECTOR: Hans Canosa

Directed by Hans Canosa, “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” is based on Gabrielle Zevin’s 2014 novel of the same name.

Fikry owns Island Books on Alice Island, a summer destination off Massachusetts in Nantucket. He’s not yet 40 but already widowed. His wife, Nic, dead in an auto accident.

Fikry drinks. Island Books drifts toward bankruptcy. Then, within a span of days, his rare copy of Poe’s Tamerlane(worth $400,000) is stolen, and 2-year-old Maya is deposited at his bookstore.

Fikry cannot bear to leave the precocious child to the system once it becomes apparent her single mother has drowned herself in the sea. He adopts Maya, spurred by her immediate attachment to her.

That decision detours his plan to drink himself to death and reinvigorates his life and his bookstore. Add Amelia Loman, quirky traveling sales representative for Knightley Press, and a romance that takes four years to begin, and there’s a Nicholas Sparks quality to this novel about people who love books but can’t find someone to love.

With a wry appreciation for the travails of bookstore owners—A.J. doesn’t like e-readers. Among others, there are the bright and sweet-natured Maya, who morphs into an insecure but still precocious teenager; Lambiase, local police chief who finds in Firky the friend who expands his life; A.J.’s brother-in-law, Daniel Parish, a once–best-selling author riding out a descending career arc; and Daniel’s wife, Ismay, who sees A.J. as everything Daniel should be.

All fit the ambience perfectly in a plot that spins out as expected, book-ended by tragedy. These characters grow and prosper, mainly A.J. and Lambiase, in a narrative that is sometimes sentimental, sometimes funny, sometimes true to life and always entertaining.

What really disappoints in the adaptation is too much story and not much soul to the story- quite unlike the book.

It does not land emotionally and makes a dreary watch of a guy struggling to stay realistically afloat.


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