BOOK: The A to Z of You and Me
AUTHOR: James Hannah
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Landmark
MY RATING: ★ ★ ★ (3/5)
He has all kinds of everyday joy in his life – he’s young, he’s in love, he has friends who promise to stand by him if life ever goes wrong.
Then one day, life does go wrong.
He makes a mistake, and it’s big and unforgiveable. Now time is running out, and his life is falling apart. But he’s going to put it back together again. His own way.
This is a story about how far love must stretch to gather a life in pieces – and about how a strong friendship never dies.
I received and electronic copy of this publication in exchange for an honest review.
This is the story of Ivo. Ivo is a 40 year old man who is in a hospice dying of kidney failure. Estranged from his friends and family, Ivo seeks solace from his nurse, Sheila. To pass the time and keep his mind active, Sheila gives him a game to play. For every letter of the alphabet, think of a body part and a story from his life to go with it. So Ivo starts, narrating the important bits of his life back to us through alphabetical body parts, giving us the story of love found and lost, friends and family close then torn apart, and ultimately how he wound up in the hospice all alone.
I really did enjoy this book and Ivo’s story, but it falls short on the rating a bit for me simply because it didn’t really wow me. Hannah’s writing is absolutely brilliant and strings you right along for each letter of the alphabet. There is a consistent pace throughout. You could sit down and read this easily in one sitting. It doesn’t really lull either, which is fantastic. Ivo is also a really likable character. He’s not perfect and he knows it, he doesn’t play the victim. He knows he is responsible for the events transpired in his life and isn’t quick to pass blame.
Where it fell short for me was the tragedy that ultimately tore everyone apart, and the underlying moral of the story that I felt wasn’t executed as strongly as the books description would imply. The event that transpires, that the whole story is building up to, just feels so cliche. I really don’t know how to say that without sounding somewhat monstrous, implying that someones death could be cliche, but it is. While I understand it would be difficult to find a way to alter the events while keeping the same outcomes, it was just an overused tragedy for me and it definitely took away some of the shock factor. Well, that and the fact that you could tell what was coming from a mile away.
“‘What you don’t get right, you can always put right. Don’t be afraid to change your mind.’”
Not every story needs a moral, but The A to Z of You and Me promises a greater message just from its cover blurb. That is not untrue. There are definitely some themes here that get you thinking. But there impact is not as profound as I had expected. Ivo spends a great deal of time being stubborn in his resolve to not see any visitors in the hospice, and yet at the very end he seems so incredibly quick to forgive. I understood the urgency of the situation, but it just felt a little off to me.
If you’re thinking of picking up this book for some light reading, I’d say do it. The story here is not undeserving of your attention, it just might not impact you in the ways you thought.