So, yes. Hated this book to the point I didn’t finish it. And the reasons I hated it were multiple and many, but they all start with: I have no patience for the sort of twee faux modern fairy tale this book represents.
The titular Fikry works in a bookstore, and books are pretty much his only love since his wife died. That is, until (And I guess this is a spoiler so consider yourselves warned) his very most prized possession, an original copy of Tammerlane is stolen, and shortly thereafter a young mother abandons an infant in his bookstore with a note and then commits suicide. Naturally, Fikry ends up keeping the little girl (her name is Maya). And she grows up into a twee and very mature three-year-old very quickly.
I keep using the word “twee” because it’s one of the few I can come up with in my grandiose vocabulary that even comes close to sounding like the disdain I have for this book and these characters.
The writing style is excruciatingly self-aware, the characters make incredibly awkward literary references. The chapters each begin with an epigraph written by Fikry, presumably to Maya as the book goes on, about books and reading and the importance of same. I think these were meant to serve as a way of showing the reader the changes in Fikry’s character, but frankly I wasn’t seeing any change in him. Or anyone else in the book, really. Raves on Amazon say this book is about the love of reading but I swear people were not reading the same book I was: Fikry appears to love his books in much the same way as the Book Thief did in The Man Who Loved Books Too Much. Not for themselves, or the stories within them, but for the way his choice in books made him feel superior to those around him in taste and intellect.
He does eventually find love other than father-child love, naturally. And naturally, the book has an ending that I saw coming a mile away (no, as I said, I didn’t finish it but I did read other Goodreads reviews). I wasn’t touched by this book, nor reminded why I love, nor any of the other gushing praise it’s received.
Well, except for one thing. I was reminded of the reasons I love reading, and the reasons I read.
Because this book? Represents none of those reasons.