Sometimes, you’re looking for a story that changes your perception of life, people around you. A story putting you on an emotional roller coaster : there are ups, but even more downs, your heart breaks, and warms up again. Because You’ll Never Meet Me is one of those stories, a one-of-a-kind tale I really loved.
“Never let your illness define you.”
Olly is allergic to electricity. He can’t encounter a power line, have a cellphone, or get close to a computer or a car, without risking his life. He lives with his mom, reclused from the all-electric society, in a cabin in the woods. Moritz is born with a heart condition, and has an electronic pacemaker to help him, well, live. He lives with his father in Germany, goes to school, and tries to have something close to what you can call a normal life…well, when you’re having gaping holes instead of eyes. Two boys, very different. And they can never meet, not because of the ocean between them, but because of the electricity in Moritz’s heart. The teenagers are starting a correspondence, and a powerful friendship, telling each other their life stories, scattered in pieces, as their lives are. You’re still following me? I hope you are, because, let’s face it, this synopsis is really one of a kind, I never heard about two characters so different, so unique. Two boys, and a friendship, developped through letters. I have to say, this exactly is what made me want to read this book so badly. A unique story, and two characters that seemed completely messed-up. The setting is quite unique, too, between Olly living reclused in the woods, and Moritz living in Germany. We even get some moments of German language, which just made it all really realistic.
“People hurt each other all the time. Especially when they care for each other.”
The strongest, and the best aspect of Because You’ll Never Meet Me relies, for me, in the characters. On the one hand, you get Olly. He’s funny, sarcastic, talkative…from the very first pages, he stood out of the pages to be this incredible boy, full of joy and that can just never shut up. On the other hand, you get Moritz. More calm, more realistic, too, maybe a little more silent, but no less interesting and intriguing. During the whole book, you get to follow both sides of their stories, by alternating points of view. I loved how different their voices were, in this book, and how they both stood out, in their own way. As we go, we get to understand more and more about their personnalities, their lives, the way they think and act, and the reasons why. And, most of all, we get a real, amazing, both powerful and hopeful friendship between two people you’d never expect. They are both boys, and it was as refreshing as realistic to see them bond through letters, fight, misunderstand each other, and still remain there whenever the other needs it. Because You’ll Never Meet Me is, mostly the story of that. A friendship, a strong one. There are moments when you get a peak of romance, family issues, school, and lots of other interesting themes. But the main focus, and the most amazing thing about this book, is how this friendship is painted, how it evolves, and shapes the characters into what they’re supposed to be.
Despite the letters form, which I thought would bother me, at first, this book was full of life, even more than some ordinary written stories, if I can say. We get peaks of stories from Olly and Moritz, we get dialogues, we get feelings, and lots of them. And, always, if you read between the lines, there’s a tension. There’s this damn something more that made me read this book quickly, that kept me intrigued right from the start, until the end. There are events, life-changing events that are mentionned, and you’re kept waiting until you know the truth. And what truth… I won’t spoil it for you guys, but I was wondering if I was still reading a contemporary book. For me, yes, it still was. Because it was mostly about those amazing characters. But the ending, the revelations, the last maybe 30 pages, kept me in awe. This is what made me, more than interested, more than invested, captivated in this story. I didn’t expect the ending to happen this way. Thinking you’re reading a contemporary, well, you’re wrong. It’s more, way more, than that. For me, this was the something more I was looking for.
Because you’ll never meet me is about friendship, but also about bullying and being different. Both characters are growing in the story, learning from their mistakes, getting up to fight for themselves, and accepting who they are. Moreover, Leah Thomas’ writing is perfectly paced, and exploring every particularity of her characters, developping them in an amazing way. This was a beautiful story to read, and I think it will stay with me for a while.
If you’re into contemporary, friendships, and one-of-a-kind stories, do pick up Because You’ll Never Meet Me.
Are you interested in reading this book? Why, or why not? Share your thoughts in comments!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for a free copy of this book, in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect the content of this review, and my opinion on this.
Leah Thomas, Because You’ll Never Meet Me, Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, June 2nd 2015.
Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.
A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.