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Book review: The A-Z Of You And Me, by James Hannah

A touching story built around the relationship between the carer and cared-for, finds Dr Katie Culley

This book provides an insight into the life of a patient Ivo, a young man in a hospice bed whose story is revealed through the letters of the alphabet, keeping us guessing as the narrative slowly evolves.

Jumping between his memories of the past and the here and now using the letters from A to Z, we discover the life that led him to that bed. From friendships of his school days, relationships and family ties to the ins and outs of hospice life from a patient point of view, we learn about Ivo the man: his approach to life, and ultimately his approach to death. Central to the theme is his story of lost love, forgiveness, friendship and regret.

Told in a unique and interesting manner, intelligently written and with a gently humorous take on an often dark and difficult subject, it is a story that will stay with you. And for those working in a hospice setting, it provides a beautiful example of the relationship that develops between staff and their patients and the healing potential of such care, as well as an interesting perspective on the patient experience and those stories waiting - perhaps needing - to be told.

With an ending no doubt designed to be controversial, it will certainly leave you thinking.

An impressive debut novel and a thoroughly recommended read.

Dr Kate Culley is a GP in Eastbourne

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