I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books on 2nd July 2015
In a stunning literary debut, two boys on opposite ends of the world begin an unlikely friendship that will change their lives forever.
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.
I’m just going to start this off by saying that this is one of my favourite books of 2015. It needs to be said. Leah Thomas has totally blown me away with this stunning book. I know there’s been some mixed reviews on Goodreads, and that made me a little apprehensive to pick it up because this has been one of my most anticipated reads of this year, but it definitely did not disappoint.
Because You’ll Never Meet Me is told in letters between Ollie and Moritz, two boys who society deem as freaks. Ollie is 14, although I found this hard to remember as he is so switched on and so smart. And he’s allergic to electricity, being close to it can send him spiralling into a life threatening seizure. This isn’t just epilepsy, it’s so much more dangerous. He lives in a log cabin with his mother in the woods. And Moritz is 16, living in Germany with his father. He has a pacemaker fitted, meaning that he and Ollie will never, ever meet. There’s a lot more to Moritz, but I’m not going to share it, as you need to find out for yourself. And so they begin writing to one another. At first, the letters were awkward, with Ollie’s over-enthusiasm sharply contrasting Moritz’s condescendance, but then they suddenly, out of nowhere, become friends. Real, true friends. And it was so heartbreaking to keep reminding myself that they wouldn’t meet.
It almost felt like I was intruding on Ollie and Moritz’s privacy as the letters got so personal, with Ollie having to deal with his mum and the fact that Liz blamed him for something that wasn’t his fault, and Moritz having to deal with horrendous bullying. I’ll be honest, I didn’t like Liz. I thought she was truly awful to Ollie at times. The thing that bugged me the most was when she called Ollie selfish. Because yes, he was. But he didn’t know how to be anything else. He has interacted with a handful of people, he mainly occupies himself. Who wouldn’t be selfish!? Moritz overcame so much thanks to Ollie’s encouragement. He started off as this awful person who was so angry at the world to someone who found people to care for and he cared for them fiercely. He didn’t believe he deserved kindness and good things – but he did. And I’m so glad Ollie made him see that. They helped each other so much, and I loved their friendship.
The ending of Because You’ll Never Meet Me wasn’t my favourite, but I understand it. It was sad, yet hopeful, and made me wish for a bright future for both Ollie and Moritz. At times it wasn’t hugely realistic – but – that is somewhat explained by Moritz – he says himself that he could be overexaggerating. And parts of it were traumatising to read, but not that far from the truth in some awful world, I imagine.
I can only implore you to pick Because You’ll Never Meet Me up. It’s a touching story about friendship, and a stark reminder about how society treats those who aren’t seen as ‘normal’. I loved every page of this wonderful book, and cannot wait to get my own copy for my bookcase.