Thank you to Sourcebooks Landmark for providing me with an advanced copy of James Hannah's novel, The A-Z of You and Me, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT - Ivo is only in his early 40's, yet his life is coming to an end. As he spends his last weeks in a hospice, a nurse gives him a game to play: he must recall memories with associated body parts for each letter of the alphabet. Beginning with "A", Ivo recalls a childhood memory involving an Adam's Apple. Ivo remembers his life, love, and regrets, as his pain medication makes his mind increasingly foggy, and he succumbs to his disease.
LIKE- I like the concept of The A-Z of You and Me. The idea of connecting body parts to recalled memories, generates compelling stories and it provides an interesting framework for the novel. The book deals with Ivo's relationships and often poor choices with regard to friends and experiences. To that end, the story is filled with memorable secondary characters; people that you wouldn't want to know in real life, but make for a good story. There is a very sweet memory involving knitted hearts hung in trees in the middle of the night. It's magical and cinematic.
DISLIKE- I just didn't connect with Ivo, which is a huge problem. He's definitely a character that has made some bad choices, but he's still the protagonist, and I felt that I should be rooting for him. It's clear that his health isn't going to improve, but I wanted to care about his final decisions to make peace with his past. I felt indifference towards Ivo, which is almost worse than disliking a character. I can't quite pinpoint the issue causing my indifference, possibly character voice?
RECOMMEND- No. Ultimately my disconnect from Ivo makes Hannah's debut novel a no-go as far as recommending it. Although, if Hannah's second novel catches my interest, I'd give him a second chance as a writer. The A-Z of You and Me isn't terrible, it just didn't have the emotional impact that I anticipating.