The A-Z of You and Me
By James Hannah
Published by Doubleday
Available in hardback and ebook
James Hannah's debut novel, The A-Z of You and Me seems rather depressing on the surface - Ivo, in his 40's, is in a hospice, refusing visitors, waiting to die. Yet, this book is full of life and life affirming.
Ivo is full of regrets, as he stares out the window of the hospice, watching the garden and life carrying on without him. His carer, Sheila suggests he plays the 'A to Z game.' This involves making your way through the alphabet, thinking of a body part and a story associated with that part of the body.
Through a series of flashbacks, we see why Ivo's life is full of false starts, broken relationships with friends, lovers and families. He has drifted through life, not appreciating the relationships and life around him and in behaving like this he has lose the love of his life. Hannah creates characters with flaws making blunders, trying hard to fix problems but finding themselves spiraling away from an ideal they hold in their head. Yet Hannah makes sure there are sprinkles of comedy.
One of favourite things about The A-Z of You and Me is the rhythm of the sentences. I found myself on several occasions reading it out loud because the pace and the rhythm galloping along, whisking me up into the story.
There is no happy ending. There are no perfect characters. This is a novel where the protagonist stays in bed, refusing to let go of the past, wanting to stew in the tragedies in his life. This is a book that makes you realise that you don't want to end up like this character.
You can The A-Z of You and Me from your favourite bookshop.
This was the second book in the Curtis Brown Book Group.