My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book takes place in a hospice, so you know things are pretty bad for the protagonist. It isn’t instantly clear why Ivo is in there, just that he is young enough to still have a life before him if things had taken a different direction; if different choices had been made.
We are shown Ivo’s past life in snippets of memories conjured up by playing the A-Z game suggested by Sheila, the nurse in charge of his care. In this game you think of a body part and then recall the strongest or best memory you have for that body part. Deftly James Hannah takes us through the troubled past of Ivo to lead is to the point of death. Its never preachy, not nor is it full of saccharine sweetness of false humour, of stupid decisions.
There are a strong cast of other characters who are an important part of the story. Mia, who fights to save him and Mal, Becca, Laura and Kelvin who appeared to be hell bent on taking Ivo down with them. Sheila, the hospice nurse is a strongly written character who really portrays the calmness of a nurse who specialises in helping people die with dignity exudes.
Ivo isn’t a nice character who you bond with as a reader, he is a junkie and indeed the more you learn the less sympathy you feel. His excuse for taking drugs and not looking after his diabetic self was almost always connected to his girlfriend Mia not being at his beck and call because she was working as a student nurse and he was bored. Sure his father died when he was a young child, but surely there comes a time when you have to take responsibility for your own behaviour?
This is a gentle yet strong look at what life sometimes happens amid youthful stupid decisions. It is a powerful book that makes the reader come to grips with their own judgmentally .
“..the lately living and the due-to-be dead” page 148
Drug usage is insinuated but not fully expressed.