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?
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 272 pages
- Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
- Publication Date: 12/03/2015
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780857522641
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Review by shelleyraec
The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah is a story of love, loss, truth, redemption, of life and death.As forty year old Ivo lays in his hospice bed awaiting the end, his nurse suggests he play a simple game to distract himself. For each letter of the alphabet, he is to name a part of his body and recall a positive memory relating to it. A is for Adam's apple, and anus and ankle, B is for blood, C is for chesticles... and slowly Ivo's lifetime of achievements, regrets and failures is revealed."‘You find suddenly you’ve done all these terrible things for - for no reason, almost. Things that didn’t seem terrible at the time, you know? And not for a long time. But you find that - you know, your whole world’s changed because of them. Lots of people’s worlds. You’ve made your mark, whether you like it or not.’”With each letter, Hannah unravels fragments of Ivo's past as he reminisces about family, friends and the love of his life, Mia. For Ivo the memories are often uncomfortable, there are parts of his life he doesn't want to think about, but a precious few make him smile."You’re everywhere. The memories of you, the shape of you. All the parts of my body seem to come together and remember you.”Despite Ivo's encroaching fate, The A to Z of You and Me is not as bleak or as sentimental as may be expected. Hannah's portrayal of Ivo is raw and honest, but also compassionate. Darker moments are lightened by the humour and kindness of Ivo's nurse, Sheila, and the regular reminder that life, even in the midst of death, goes on.The unique structure of the novel is appealing and works well, merging the past with the present. The pacing is good and the details of Ivo's life are teased out slowly to provide ongoing interest.The A to Z of You and Me is an emotional and poignant story, a well written novel from a promising debut author.