Title: The A to Z of You and Me
Author: James Hannah
Published: March 12th 2015
Publisher: Transworld Publishers
Genre: Adult, Contemporary
Length: 272 pages
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Book Blurb (via Goodreads):
A striking literary debut of love and mortality perfect for fans of quirky, heart-wrenching fiction like Nathan Filer, David Nicholls and Rachel Joyce.
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 …
This book wasn’t quite what I had been expecting when I started it. First of all, I hadn’t expected the main character to be alone, lying in a hospice, waiting to die. Secondly, I hadn’t expected the complicated events that we are told that led to him being there.
I had expected it to be a love story, which in a way it is, but slightly less conventional than the usual love story. Ivo, who is in the hospice because his kidneys are failing him at the age of forty, thinks back on his life with a girl that he loved and lost, often addressing the reader as though they are her.
It’s a subtle touch that draws the reader more into the sadness of his life and I really felt for him. However, as the events of his life unfold, I was a little less sympathetic towards him.
Through his almost delinquent and reckless past, he pushed Mia away almost without realising, simply because he was too weak-willed to say no to his sister and his friends.
When his nurse Sheila suggests that he plays a game to keep his mind active – thinking of a body part for each of the letters of the alphabet and coming up with a story from his life about that body part – his stories all revolve around his family, his friends, or Mia.
It is, ultimately, a sad tale. Although I wasn’t quite crying by the end of it, I did feel a pressure in my chest like a great weight was there – the sadness echoing from the book into me, I guess.
As Ivo sits and thinks on his life, we are walked through it in a disjointed way. It’s not always easy to follow the time jumps, I did get lost a couple of times, however, it is a relaxed read that is easy to read in a few sittings or put to the side and pick up again without losing the thread of the story.
A good read for people who like complicated back stories that resolve themselves by the end of the story. It’s almost like a mystery unfolding before you as you follow Ivo through his life to discover why he’s in the position he’s in.
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About the Author
James Hannah divides his time between London and Shropshire, UK. He has a Master’s degree in Beckett Studies from the Beckett International Foundation at Reading University. His first novel, ‘The A to Z of You and Me’ is published by Doubleday in 2015.