Book review: The A-Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson

1 Jul

a-zP 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.

Debbie Johnson is making quite a habit of making me cry with her books! The A-Z of Everything is an emotional read but there was also plenty of laughter with the poignant moments, in fact I think the laughter and humour that Debbie puts into her writing makes it even more poignant and she expertly shows in this book that there is a blurry line between sadness and happiness.

Poppy and Rose are sisters who grew up with just their Mum, Angela to look after them. The three were a tight knit unit until Poppy and Rose grew up and apart. As the novel opens, Angela is dying and still trying ot find a way to reunite her beloved daughters. So Angela creates The A-Z of everything; a very personal set of letters, videos, tape recordings and other items for Poppy and Rose to work their way through as they try to fulfill their Mother’s last wish. I loved the premise for this book. It’s a little different from Debbie’s previous books but I absolutely loved The Comfort Food Cafe and I can see how themes in that story have developed into this book so although this is different, Debbie’s fans will still love it and recognise the wonderful warmth of her writing.

The story moves perfectly between past and present building up a picture of Rose and Poppy’s lives and their childhoods. I felt really nostalgic reading The A-Z of Everything as Poppy and Rose are a similar age to me so lots of the things mentioned in their childhoods and as they grew up rang true with me. Rose had my sympathy from the start of the book and I found myself hoping that she could get her life back on track as I read. It took me a little longer to warm to Poppy but I did. Both ladies are excellent characters; well rounded and complex and I enjoyed learning about them as they reacted to the different letters of the A-Z.

The A-Z format gives the book excellent pace and I couldn’t wait to see what would be next and to find out if Poppy and Rose would grant their mum’s dying wish by the end of the story. Johnson explores what happens when loved ones fall out and this is a book that will make you want to hold your loved ones closer and will prompt you to think about what’s really important in life. I loved the adventure that Angela took Poppy and Rose on. This is a novel filled with warmth, wit and wise words – another excellent book from Debbie!

4/5

The A-Z of Everything is out now in paperback, ebook and audio formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Find out more about Debbie and her writing at: http://www.debbiejohnsonauthor.com/

 

 

 

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