Saturday, 11 July 2015

Book Review - The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah - Paperback Summer

Amazon UK
Title: The A to Z of You and Me
Author: James Hannah
Format reviewed: Hardback
Source: Competition Win
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: 12th March 2015
Rating: 5 Stars

Ivo fell for her.

He fell for a girl he can’t get back.

Now he’s hoping for something.

While he waits he plays a game:

He chooses a body part and tells us its link to the past he threw away.

He tells us the story of how she found him, and how he lost her.

But he doesn't have long.

And he still has one thing left to do ...

Ivo is in a hospice, the exact reason for this isn't clear at the start of the book. What is clear is that there is an incredibly kind nurse called Sheila, who gets Ivo to play something called her A to Z game, just to keep his mind active. The idea of this game is to think of body parts beginning with each letter of the alphabet and also a story personal to you, about each of them.

It is through this game that we learn why Ivo is in the hospice, and what has been happening in his life to bring him to this point. It is a very clever story telling mechanism, as you get to discover a lot about Ivo's friends, family and his choices, as well as the love of his life. 

This is in some respects a tragic story of a young(ish) man who had everything going for him, but chose to waste his life, with a series of bad decisions that has led to this point. Ivo is a frustrated patient, and just wants to cut himself off from the outside world. 

Sheila is a wonderful nurse and tries her hardest to connect with Ivo, and her other patients, and seems to always know what it is Ivo wants or needs, even if he can't quite express it himself. 

I found myself getting very frustrated with Ivo's friends, as they all seem to be on a path to self destruction, and none of them treating life with any respect. Even Ivo's initial illness is maltreated by himself and at times you just want to shake him.

I found The A to Z of You and Me to be a wonderfully written debut novel, full of emotion, which left me with a lump in my throat. At times I wasn't completely convinced I knew the outcome, but the book went in the most logical direction, once the full depth of the reason Ivo is in the hospice was revealed. 

I really enjoyed this story, and I look forward to seeing what is next from James Hannah. 

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