Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The A-Z of You and Me by James Hannah

review by Maryom

Ivo is lying in a hospital room with nothing to occupy him apart from an occasional bird  flitting through the tree outside the window. To alleviate the tedium and distract from his anxieties, his nurse suggests he plays a game of A-Z body parts, telling a tale or sharing a memory about each. At first a little dismissive of a 'parlour game', Ivo none-the-less joins in, starting with A for Adam's Apple, reminiscing about his life, his loves, his failures, and, above all, where everything went wrong..

This book started well and promised to be the kind of read that I love. Using the A-Z to tell Ivo's backstory works well, even if it's only a plot device. It's told in an engaging chatty style. Alternating between flashbacks and the monotonous 'now' of hospital moves both sections of the story on quickly; the reminiscences built up a picture of Ivo's childhood, drink and drug-fuelled partying with his mates, and the love that could have changed his life around, and contrast sharply with the bleak present day. It all had me wanting to learn more... but that's where I started to run into problems because unfortunately, the more I read, the less I liked Ivo and his friends. Now, although it isn't necessary to like a main character to like a book - after all who can really 'like' Jane Austen's snobbish, self-centred, Emma? - Ivo was just someone I couldn't get along with. Always ready to blame some one else for his mistakes, he seemed to really be on a course of self-destruction, no matter how many times Mia forgave him and offered him a chance to turn things around. Unlike Mia, I soon reached a point where my sympathy for him had gone!

Maryom's review - 3.5 stars
Publisher - Doubleday
Genre - adult fiction

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