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The A to Z of You and Me

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  2,274 ratings  ·  409 reviews
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 to 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 croc ...more
Published 2015 by Doubleday
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Average rating 3.51  · 
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 ·  2,274 ratings  ·  409 reviews

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Larry H
Jan 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I'd rate this 3.5 stars.

Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Many thanks to NetGalley and SOURCEBOOK Landmark for making it available.

Ivo, a man in his 40s, is nearing the end of his life at a hospice facility. He's alone—no friends, no family come to visit him—and it's clear he's very, very sad. The only people he talks to are the hospice nurses, and one in particular realizes the emotional pain he's in. To keep his mind sha
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book which left me with quite a lump in my threat. Set in a hospice, 40 year old Ivo doesn’t have long to live and is weakening when his nurse, Sheila, suggests he plays a mental game with himself – the A to Z game. The idea is to think of a body part for each letter and to tell a story for each one. As Ivo works his way through the alphabet he tells us the story of his life, his family, his carefree younger lifestyle with his friends. He also uses each body part to tell a story for ...more
Shannon (leaninglights)
Very interesting writing style but didn't quite come together for me.
Jeannette Nikolova
Also available on the WondrousBooks blog.

I got contacted by the publishers to pick one of their newest books to review. Initially this was my pick. Because the blurb:
He has all kinds of everyday joy in his life -- he's young, he's in love, he has friends who promise to stand by him if life ever goes wrong.

Then one day, life does go wrong.


This is a story about how far love must stretch to gather a life in pieces -- and about how a strong friendship never die
Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine)
This book filled me with a sense of bittersweet melancholy from start to finish. Ivo is a young man with diabetes who didn't take very good care of himself and, as a result, his kidneys have failed and he's in a hospice with (mostly) elderly people who are (mostly) dying of cancer. Throughout the book we learn the details of how he lost Mia, the love of his life. The story of Mia and Ivo, which is slowly revealed, is certainly central but by no means all this book has going for it. It's really a ...more
Lying in a hospice bed, 40-year-old Ivo looks back on his life. Even after just four short decades and a modest career at a garden center, he has plenty to regret. Hard partying and drug use exacerbated his diabetes and prompted kidney failure. His lifestyle also led indirectly to his girlfriend, a nursing student named Mia (the “you” whom he often addresses directly), leaving him. He’s estranged from his sister and the friends he’d been close to since school days, especially Mal. How did he mes ...more
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you know me you'll know I dislike 'sick-lit' - books about terminal illnesses written to make you cry and sob. I don't like it when a writer takes the idea of a disease that has caused insurmountable suffering to real people only to turn it into a heartbreaking story complete with an illfated love, broken heart, emotional manipulation and all that. You don't need plot twists to show cancer as ugly and you don't need to throw in unrealistic cancer perks like trips to Amsterdam to make your sto ...more
Tracy Fenton
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
This storyline is cleverly original, as we met the narrator in a hospice and learn about his life through a game his nurse tells him to play... reliving his past through the alphabet. This is a sad and thought provoking read and I did shed a tear or two at the end. I highly recommend this book and will keep an eye out for more from this author.
Renita D'Silva
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Beautiful. Sad. I loved this wonderful book.
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m going to sound childish or very old but what can you expect when you don’t look after your own health and go with peer pressure?! Very eye opening book. Sad but a good read. Truth can be painful and useful
Elvina Zafril
Actual rating 3.5 stars. Beautiful but Its kinda sad story I think.
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ivo is forty years old and at first we don't know much about him apart from the fact he is dying in a hospice. He doesn't want any visitors and seems resigned to just lying in his bed waiting for the end to come. Sheila, his nurse, suggests a game to him to help keep his mind active and spirits up. He has to name a part of his body for each letter of the alphabet and remember a story about himself to go with it. This makes him recall events from his past and we start to find out more about him a ...more
Lisa Hall
Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I GULPED down this novel in one sitting, ignoring everybody in the house until I was done. It was so, so much more than I was expecting - Ivo's story is both heart breaking and infuriating. There were times when I wanted to reach in and shake him, shouting, "WHY??? WHY DID YOU DO THAT??? You KNEW what would happen if you did that!", which has to be an excellent indication of quite how attached I became to Ivo during our short time together.

Some characters in this story are downright loathsome,
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was presented to me as a book club read and at first I thought, oh dear, a book set in a hospice, this might be a depressing read. How wrong was I. This was beautifully written and through the concept of Ivo recounting his past by taking a letter of the alphabet, we find out about the man, and his past, his regrets and eventually why he is in the hospice. Ivo is a solitary man, he doesn't want visitors and he seems to push people away but the scenes with the young girl whose mother is ...more
Maya Panika
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's so easy to blame others for all that's gone wrong in a life, especially a life that has become a litany of grief and regret.
Ivo lies in a hospice bed; he is forty years old and he's waiting for death. His nurse, the kind and caring, funny Sheila - were you waiting out in the corridor? You came straight in. Oh yeah, keeping vigil outside your room every minute of the day, sweetheart. And it's only a coincidence that's where we keep the biscuits - suggests a game to stop him going bananas: t
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah is a story of love, loss, truth, redemption, of life and death.

As forty year old Ivo lays in his hospice bed awaiting the end, his nurse suggests he play a simple game to distract himself. For each letter of the alphabet, he is to name a part of his body and recall a positive memory relating to it. A is for Adam's apple, and anus and ankle, B is for blood, C is for chesticles... and slowly Ivo's lifetime of achievements, regrets and failures is revealed.

Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't like this book when I first started it. But I decide to give it an hour. After the hour, I kind of got suck in to it, by page 139 my eyes were filling up. and by the end of the book I was crying. Maybe I am a sucker, I don't know.

The main character. Ivo is in a hospice and on his death bed. a nurse suggest he plays an A to Z game. pick a body part starting with A and think of a memory from your life to relate to it. The story is really jumpy from the game to real life back to the game.
Dec 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Adam's apple, Blood. Chesticles, Diaphragm, Eyes, Face, Gut, Heart, Insulin, Kidneys, Lips, Muscles, Nose, Palm, Quim, Rib, Skin, Tear ducts, Uvula, Voice, Wings...

That's how hard I read this book that I memorized most of the Ivo's A-Z without even peeking into the book and successfully know most of it by heart. That's how much I dig this book.

The story was mainly set at a place where Ivo currently lives and get treated from kidney failure. To get him distracted, Sheila the nurse, suggested him
Joanne D'Arcy
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ivo is in a hospice. He is a young man, he does not belong in this place you would think. Sadly for Ivo he knows this and he is as he lies in his bed, thinking over the life he has led so far and what trouble there has been and what love he has had and subsequently lost.

We don't know why Ivo is in a hospice. We know very little about him and there seems to be no or few visitors. He is isolated. He blames people. He does not want to face the guilt of his past. His only contact is with Sheila the
Suze Lavender
Mar 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ivo doesn't have much time anymore and he spends his last weeks in a hospice. He's staring at the walls and there isn't much to do except waiting for the inevitable. His nurse Sheila tells him to do the A to Z game. He has to think of a body part for each letter and then he has to come up with a story that goes with it. The game brings all kinds of memories to the surface. Ivo thinks about his family, his friends and most of all the love of his life. Unfortunately this doesn't bring him peace. H ...more
Karen R
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a heart-breaking story about a man who lies dying, one who paid a heavy price for polluting his body with drugs and booze. Losing the love of his life, long-term job, estrangement from his sister, Ivo was once a shining star but he fell in with the wrong people and one day made a devastating mistake that changes his life forever. Had he listened to his conscience, or heeded his body’s warning signs, his story may have had a ‘happily ever after’ ending, but it doesn’t. Living with kidney ...more
Victoria Goldman
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
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 humou
jessica ☾
Apr 25, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This definitely wasn’t what I expecting when I started this book, and while it definitely wasn’t bad- it’s just really not my cup of tea. I don’t really care for more abstract storytelling and prefer a straightforward approach.
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredibly sad and powerful book. Hannah's novel centres on Ivo in his hospital bed, dying. To take his mind off his pain, nurse Sheila sets him the task of thinking of a body part for each letter of the alphabet. So begins a disjointed revealing of how Ivo came to be in hospital, of his loves, his friends, his losses, his misspent youth. The trope could feel gimmicky, but Hannah's sensitive writing, his portrayal of even the bad guys as understandable, means you never resent the auth ...more
David Reviews
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The A-Z Of You And Me is wonderfully sad with a touch of humour. A delight to read with perceptive detail and a slightly quirky style. James Hannah slowly reveals forty year old Ivo's touching story and current predicament. An excellent debut that will both amuse and move you and one I can highly recommend.

Ivo lies terminally ill in the St Leonards hospice and his amazingly lovely nurse Sheila suggests he plays the A-Z game to occupy his mind. You must alphabetically name a different part of the
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The marketing representative for promised us at Book Buzz Boston that this book would make us ugly-cry, and author James Hannah delivered.

Ivo, in hospice with kidney failure, should be in the prime of his (mid)life; instead, he is contemplating the choices he's made that brought him to this point by playing a game devised by his favorite caregiver: find a memory for each body part, in alphabetical order. From Adam's apple on, the narrative weaves between past and present as the aloof Ivo comes
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
I read this because it was recommended to people who loved Me Before You (one of my favorite books). Maybe that's why I only gave The A to Z of You and Me two stars - I was constantly comparing the two books. While Me Before You put me through an emotional rollercoaster (I still get choked up if I think about it for too long), this one left me untouched, unmoved. Clearly by the rave reviews, I'm in the minority. I will say the writing is beautiful, and I would definitely read other books that Ja ...more
P Longstocking
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is a such a special book that has really stayed with me. It is beautifully written, carefully crafted and incredibly moving. I can't think of many other books that have tackled a sad subject like this with such lightness of touch, pace and humour - I just need more people to read it now so I can talk about it with someone!
Bailey Skye
Jan 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads, arc
I received and electronic copy of this publication in exchange for an honest review.

3/5 Stars

This is the story of Ivo. Ivo is a 40 year old man who is in a hospice dying of kidney failure. Estranged from his friends and family, Ivo seeks solace from his nurse, Sheila. To pass the time and keep his mind active, Sheila gives him a game to play. For every letter of the alphabet, think of a body part and a story from his life to go with it. So Ivo starts, narrating the important bits of his life bac
Alisha Tarran
Jan 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*ugly sniffing noises* *nose blowing* *wipes tears* right then. Review. *Sniffs* I'm good, I'm good. So this book you can tell, it was a bit of a "I'm not gonna cry, I'm not gonna cry....don't cry....don't cry.......sobs all over the place" type book.

We start off merely knowing Ivo is dying in a hospice, and his nurse gives him a little game...find a body part to match each letter of the alphabet, and with each body part, we learn more about Ivo as he gives us a memory related t
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James Hannah's first novel, 'The A to Z of You and Me' was published in the UK by Transworld in 2015, in the US by Sourcebooks and Germany by Eichborn in 2016, and in Brazil by Rocco in 2017.

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