Monday, 2 March 2015

The A - Z of You and Me by James Hannah

The A - Z of You and Me
By James Hannah
Published by Doubleday/Transworld (12 March 2015)

Publisher's description
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 verdict
Books about terminal illness are a current trend. But unlike most of these, The A - Z of You and Me isn't overly sentimental. There are no sob stories and no final messages to loved ones. It's not bogged down with details of death and illness, but is an uplifting yet sad story of misspent youth, bad life choices and the repercussions of self-destruction.

James Hannah has produced an original honest look at a life with plenty of regrets. This emotional journey made me laugh and cry, with wry humour on one page and sad revelations on the next.

To begin with, all you know is that Ivo is dying in a hospice, refusing any visitors. His nurse Sheila suggests a game to pass the time - go through the alphabet from A to Z, find a part of your body for each letter and think of a story or memory relating to it.

The A - Z of You and Me carries a whole host of emotions - love, guilt, blame, hopelessness, loneliness, shame and grief. I expected the book to be disjointed - literally just an A to Z list  - but it is so creative and well written that it flows seamlessly from beginning to end, each entry linking to the next. As the story unravels, Ivo's journey to the hospice is revealed, alongside snapshots from his past.

The A - Z of You and Me covers a difficult topic, but I found it to be an easy read with a perfect pace throughout. The ending, in particular, is beautifully written and well-deserved.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from NetGalley and Doubleday in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I loved this book as well. Great review!

  2. Thanks - I will be recommending it to lots of family and friends.