Publication date: 12 March 2015
Length: 272 pages
Age group: Adult
Source: Curtis Brown Book Group
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: ★★★★
Ivo fell for her.
He fell for a girl he can’t get back.
Now he’s hoping for something.
While he waits he plays a game:
He chooses a body part and tells us its link to the past he threw away.
He tells us the story of how she found him, and how he lost her.
But he doesn’t have long.
And he still has one thing left to do…
The A to Z of You and Me has been on my wish list ever since I first read about it in the publisher’s catalogue last year and it was, understandably, one of my most anticipated books of 2015. The synopsis doesn’t give away too much and, for some reason, I always thought it was a young adult novel – but with so many YA cancer stories out there, finding out that Ivo is, in fact, an adult was definitely a pleasant surprise.
The A to Z of You and Me centres around Ivo, a forty-year old man slowly dying of kidney disease. Ivo is lying in bed, on his own, in his local hospice and is waiting for death. To keep his mind occupied and take his mind off his increasing pain, his nurse Sheila (lovely Sheila, possibly my favourite character in this book) comes up with a game. She challenges Ivo to name a body part for each letter of the alphabet and think about a story or a memory he associates with each of these words. It is through these memories that we get to know Ivo and who he really is. It is through these flashbacks that we first hear about his friends, his girlfriend – and only love – Mia, his illness and all those events that lead to the present day.
I loved the fact that the author didn’t want to create a perfect, flawless character. It’s clear that Ivo has made some wrong decisions in his life which might have lead to where he is now, but he’s not looking for sympathy. The book doesn’t try to be sentimental – and that’s what makes it different.
The two things I loved the most about the book are Ivo’s nurse, lovely, warm and compassionate Sheila, who’s there with Ivo during his final weeks – and the ending. Oh, the ending. It really took me by surprise but in hindsight, I couldn’t think of a better way to finish the story. I loved how the author managed to reunite Ivo and Mia and free Ivo’s friends in one chapter – it was a truly beautiful finish to a beautiful book.
The A to Z of You and Me is a stunning, thought-provoking debut which is guaranteed to stay with you for a long time after turning the final page – it’s an absolute must-read for everyone.