Both novels were published in 2005, when Zevin was 27, but they had wildly different trajectories. Critics praised “Margarettown,” which Miramax Books published as an adult novel, but it failed commercially, selling around 4,200 print copies, according to Circana BookScan. “Elsewhere,” a young adult novel that Farrar, Straus and Giroux released several months later, went on to sell more than 350,000 copies.
Over the next eight years, Zevin wrote at a frenetic pace. She published another young-adult novel and a futuristic Y.A. trilogy, and she spent years working on another literary novel, “The Hole We’re In,” about a family struggling with financial debt. But nothing matched the commercial success of “Elsewhere.”
Then, in 2014, Zevin released “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry,” a love letter to literary culture that centers on an ornery bookstore owner with narrow taste whose horizons are expanded when he falls in love. For reasons that still mystify Zevin, it became a global blockbuster, selling more than 850,000 copies in the United States and more than four million worldwide. It was adapted into a feature film in 2022 that was based on a screenplay Zevin wrote, with Canosa, her partner, as the director.
Again, it seemed like Zevin’s breakout moment, and again, success proved fleeting. Three years later, when she published “Young Jane Young,” about a congressional intern who is publicly shamed for having an affair with her boss, it drew strong reviews but sold fewer than 10,000 hardcover copies.