The A – Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson
Publishing Date: 20th April 2017
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review!
Number of pages: 320
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
P is for Paris where it all began. J is for Jealousy where it all came undone. But the most important letter is F. F is for Forgiveness, the hardest of all.
Sisters Poppy and Rose used to be as close as two sisters could be, but it’s been over a decade since they last spoke. Until they both receive a call that tells them their mother has gone – without ever having the chance to see her daughters reunited.
Andrea, though, wasn’t the kind of woman to let a little thing like death stand in the way of her plans. Knowing her daughters better than they know themselves, she has left behind one very special last gift – the A-Z of Everything.
‘Funny and poignant – a celebration of life and the enduring power of love’ – Carys Bray, bestselling author of A Song for Issy Bradley.
This book is a big step away from Debbie Johnson’s previous rom – coms. Already her “Comfort Food Cafe” series was a little different, more serious in tone but “The A – Z of Everything” is a totally different level. I admit, it took me some time to get used to the new Debbie Johnson, as I totally love her specific sense of dry humour and I missed it a little lately, but you know what, this book, it is just magnificent, and the way the author writes about feelings and emotions is just beautifully gorgeous. I freely admit, it was hard for me to get into this story as I was all the time looking for a situation that’ll made me laugh out loud and I felt confused why they’re not coming but guys, honestly, my initial disappointment was very quickly replaced with the feeling of feeling my heart in my throat and having problems with swallowing. Sure, this trademark Debbie Johnson’s humour is still shining through the words and situations, and it is written in this typical author’s way, but this book is different. Period. And as much as I felt head over heals with Debbie’s “The Birthday That Changed Everything”, this book follows it closely.
The story is following Rose (Rosehip) and Poppy (Popcorn – brilliant nicknames, don’t you think?) and at the beginning, though I am really not sure why, I had great difficulties to say which one is Rose and which one is Poppy, each time I turned the page to a new chapter and there was the name of one of the sisters I needed to consider long if this is the younger or the older one. Really don’t know why. But only at the beginning. So we know that they were inseparable as children but then something very unthinkable happened and they haven’t seen or talked to each other for years. Heck, Poppy has never seen her nephew Joe and he’s already 16 years old! It takes some time for the “unthinkable” to be explained and while my imagination run wild, I haven’t come up with this possibility. So yes, estranged siblings – that is, till their mother’s friend Lewis let them know that Andrea is dead and that there is a little list of things they should do together – because Andrea’s greatest wish was to see her daughters re – united.
The two sisters couldn’t be more different, and while one of them focused on binge and comfort eating, the other one focused on her career and staying fit. When one of them felt like a doormat, didn’t have any confidence, was overweight and knew it and hated it but did nothing to change it, the second one was full of confidence, was a business – woman, had a great job and state – of – the – art apartment. They were full of flaws but guys – how much I loved them! From the very beginning. Yes, I wanted to shake them more than often, to bang their heads together but I so well could understand them, why they behaved this way, what has driven them to be like that – and it doesn’t happen often that I can get the characters SO WELL.
You know, this book brought out all kind of emotions out of me. I felt furious with the sisters for being so stubborn, I felt sorry for Joe for missing so much of his Aunt, I felt like crying when reading about Lewis’ missing Andrea so much, I felt proud of Andrea being so strong and brave. I could understand Andrea and her wish for her daughters not seeing her so ill and so weak, wanting them to remember her living and breathing and not thinking about her through the prism of seeing her on her deathbed. This story had me laughing and crying, feeling desperate and full of hope. It was so uplifting to see the two sisters finding each other and themselves afresh and heart – breaking to see how much it have cost them.
I loved to read about the tasks! Each of the letters was brilliant and believe me, guys, they were not like A is for apple or W is for watching films. They were thoroughly thought – over, they were complex and they had one thing in common – to bring the girls together. Some of the tasks were incredibly hard for Poppy and Rose, some of them were incredibly hilarious, but the most important thing was, I think, that they worked together on them – sometimes sober, more then often after a glass or two of wine, but together, slowly opening, reminiscing on their past and always having their mum in their memories.
A story that really makes you think twice. It will teach you not to take things for granted and to appreciate the smallest things in your life. And not only things, but people as well, because they won’t be in your life for ever. Novel about coming out of your comfort zones, about forgiveness. The author has done the impossible here, namely she has written a book that is so incredibly emotional on the sad side but at the same time so very uplifting, and I loved this perfect mix. Debbie Johnson can so brilliantly capture all the rawness of emotions, the broken hearts without judging the characters, and I loved this fact – it let me be angry with Rose and Poppy myself. This is really Debbie Johnson at her best, guys. “The A – Z of Everything” is a MUST read this spring and I will be recommending it to all of my friends, and I can start right now, so really, whatever you do, make sure you have this book on pre – order – it’s not a read to be missed and that is for sure going to stay with you for longer. It’s poignant, it’s full of sympathy, compassion and understanding and I can’t stop admiring the fact how much the author has managed to get into the characters’ heads and tell their stories in such a lovely way. Highly, highly recommended!