Sunday, 15 March 2015
The A - Z of You and Me by James Hannah
Published on 12th March 2015 by Doubleday, in hardback, priced £12.99
My thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr who sent me my copy to review.
I have put off writing this review for two days, not because I didn't like the story, but because anything you will read below will not serve to do this book justice.
The A - Z of You and Me is the story of Ivo, who is in a hospice. He is a troubled man with a troubled mind. He has regrets over things in his life and most probably the biggest regret of all, is the love that he has lost.
Sheila, his nurse senses that he needs to take his mind off of what makes him anxious and suggests playing a game called A - Z. Basically he has to choose a body part for each letter and think of a story or memory for each letter.
Here begins the recollections, piece by piece as Ivo looks back over his life.
It is on a very rare occasion that I have sat down to read a book and have completed it in one sitting, absolutely transfixed and unable to move until the end. I was left devastated with the tears pouring down my face. This is one of those books.
This author has been compared to Chris Cleave and David Nicholls. The latter incidentally being one of my favourites. I would suggest that the comparison is unfair. When you can write something as equally unique as it is movingly beautiful, you shouldn't be compared to anyone.
The language in this book is wonderful, there is not a superfluous word or a phrase too much, or out of place. I found it to be very poetic and even lyrical in places, for this reason it came as no surprise to find out that the Author is also a musician.
I found the alphabet game an interesting concept and something that I haven't come across before, it really helped with the flow of the story and the individual recollections.
At this point you might be thinking that this is a total weepy story, in parts that may be correct but not in the entirety. You see there is a dark humour that lifts the pace, there is the warmth of Sheila the nurse. I believe and hope that we all shall know a Sheila when the time comes.
This is essentially a story of friendship, acceptance, forgiveness and love. It is one that I will never forget. I found it refreshingly honest that as Ivo looked back over his life there was touches of realism, it wasn't twee or sentimental in any way. I really appreciated it for that. Ivo realises the mistakes and accepts it.
This book has moved me and it has changed me, and isn't that what it is all about? I want to knit hearts and blankets, that is all.
It is only March and I don't know if anything will top this one this year for me. Essential reading.
About the Author:
James Hannah has an MA in Samuel Beckett studies, this is his first novel. James has had had published short stories previously. He is also a Musician, he divides his time between London and Shropshire.
If you would like to find out more:
www.Jameshannah. com or find him on twitter @JamesHannah