The A to Z of You and Me the-a-to-z-of-you-and-me-by-james-hannah

I use my local library quite often and I found this novel in the New Release section, hoping to find a book I could recommend here on Great New Books. Confession: I chose this book mainly because of the cover and intriguing title. The description was a bit vague and there wasn’t much to go off of but it was published within the past year and I went with it. However, I wonder now if this book perhaps chose me.

I started the first chapter then set it aside for a couple of weeks when I learned an old friend was given a terminal cancer diagnosis. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

The main character of this novel, Ivo, is a diabetic who is in hospice because of kidney failure, a dire consequence of his misspent life. His nurse, Sheila, suggests he play the A to Z game to help keep his mind off of the pain, physically and mentally. She tells him to think of a body part that begins with that letter and a corresponding story.

Through Ivo’s alphabetical trip down memory lane, the reader learns of Ivo’s youthful transgressions, his personal struggle with his father’s death, the lost love of his life, and his “friends” in a past-to-present storytelling fashion.

This is a heartbreaking book that offers a glimpse into the final days of a terminally ill patient. I was completely absorbed by the way the author placed me, the reader, into Ivo’s body, feeling his pain, suffering, and mental anguish as if it were my own.

This poignant tale proved to be just what I needed as I struggled to handle the emotions of my friend’s recent diagnosis. When I decided to pick it back up after a couple of weeks and I discovered what this book was really about, I was floored that I had chosen a book that mimicked what I was trying to come to grips with in real life.

While this isn’t a typical book for me, fate must have felt it was necessary for me to read this at this exact time. If you’ve ever had a friend or a loved one pass away, this might be a great book for you. While you may not relate to Ivo’s hand in the fate his body dealt him, you will gain great insight to the peace they may have felt as they said their final goodbyes.

My friend died last week, having spent his last few days in hospice surrounded by family and friends. Without realizing it, I had chosen a book that helped me understand what my friend Jeff may have been going through in his last days. That alone was worth the read.

If you’re a fan of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, I think you’ll really enjoy this book.


Hallie Sawyer is a freelance writer/blogger with a passion for history, photography, travel, and books, of course. She lives in the Kansas City area with her husband and three kids, as well as her goofy Wheaten Terrier. You can find her at her website: and on Twitter @Hallie_Sawyer.


Have you read The A to Z of You and Me? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!

Link to buy The A to Z of You and Me at your local independent bookstore (we love them!) or at Indiebound by clicking here.