A chance conversation over a lunch table lead me to read this book sooner than I may have. I was bragging about having ghost-written Shades in the Sun this year, when another diner side-swiped me by disclosing that her husband had written a book. I’d heard of it. James Hannah’s ‘The A-Z of You and Me‘, had already set Twitter alight with rave reviews and praise. I was not sure if his wife believed me when I showed her that her Jim’s book was already on my TBR list. Suitably chastised for showing off, I ordered the paperback and earmarked it as my final book of 2015.
Sheila is trying to encourage Ivo to keep his brain cells ticking over. After all, being stuck in a hospice bed is not the most stimulating of environments and Ivo has a tendency to be melancholy, wrapping himself up in the crochet blanket which still carries the vetiver scent of his ex-girlfriend. Sheila suggests that Ivo think of a part of his body for each letter of the alphabet, and tell a little story about each part. Ivo starts with ‘Anus’. His journey through the ABCs gradually reveals more about Ivo’s life, and how he finds himself facing the end of it.
This book defies categorisation, which I believe to be a good thing. It is one of the most original books I’ve read in a while, largely due to the fact that Ivo is a totally credible narrator. He is fallible, has messed up, and admits that his mistakes have cost him dear; because of this honesty, I believed every word he says. Life can be messy and complicated, which makes it all the more important that we nurture love and treasure those who love us. This novel has guts, surprises, raw emotion and disarming sensitivity. A fine end to my reading year.