Thursday, 7 January 2016

The A-Z of You and Me by James Hannah

Out Now
Published by Random House Transworld
Purchase from Amazon here

The blurb:

'A wry and tender love story' Catherine O'Flynn, author of Costa prize-winning WHAT WAS LOST

I’m lying here in a bed, my head full of regret, with only a little bird flitting through a tree to comfort me.

Friends want to visit, but I refuse them. So my carer Sheila has given me a task to keep me occupied.

An A-Z list. Think of a part of my body for each letter. Tell a little tale about it.

When I reach H for Heart, what will I say?

How we loved to string crocheted hearts in trees? How our hearts steadily unravelled?

So I begin with A. Adam’s apple.

Will you be there to catch me when I fall?

My review:

The A-Z of You and Me is the story of Ivo. Ivo is a young man of just 40 who is seriously ill and in a hospice. One of his nurses, Sheila, suggests a game to him to try and take his mind off his condition, and to lift his mood. She suggest creating a list of body parts starting with the letter A, and working through the alphabet. The remainder of the book is cleverly told one letter and body part at a time. With each letter we learn a bit more about Ivo, his relationships, friendships, his illness, and who Ivo is.

The subject of the book is quite deep and emotional, but the author has written it in a way that isn't all doom and gloom. It is very easy to get absorbed in the book, and Ivo's story develops at a steady rate which kept me wanting to know more about what has happened to him. Ivo doesn't want his friends to visit, and is quite a downbeat character and I wanted to know more about why. Was it just he didn't want anyone to see him suffering and feel sorry for him, or was there any other reason? This gets answered as the plot unfolds.

I loved the nurse, Sheila. She is written with such warmth and compassion for Ivo. She reminds me of the nurses I have encountered when needing any treatment over the years. A lovely, caring lady who really wants the best for her patients. She really bought a smile to my face.

I wasn't sure what to make of Ivo at first and didn't know if I would take to him. I know he is seriously ill, and that its terrible given his age, and I imagine I would also feel pretty despondent in his position. It did take me a while to click with him, but I am glad I persevered because as his story developed I felt I began to see more of him and what had moulded his attitude. I actually really liked him by the end.

Whilst this is a serious subject matter there are lighter moments and some laughter. Don't be put off by the plot, it is very well and sensitively written and makes for a very easy flowing and enjoyable read. I am very pleased that I have had the opportunity to read the authors debut novel and I will be looking out for future work.

Thank you to Transworld who kindly provided a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

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