Thursday, July 2, 2015
Review: Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
Author: Leah Thomas
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Published Date: 2 July 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia
I received this book through NetGalley from Bloomsbury for review.
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. (summary from Goodreads)
Because You'll Never Meet Me is a beautiful story of friendship and humanity.
I'm still in a bit of a tizz about this book as it wasn't at all what I was expecting and a part of me still doesn't know what to make of it. What I do know is that I'm happy with it. I enjoyed this book immensely. The thing to know is that the summary of Because You'll Never Meet Me? Is the bare bones of this book. It's only the starting point. Tow boys who can never meet due to unusual circumstances, who are experiencing troubles within their lives, strike up a friendship through letters - all true. But there is so, so much more to this story. And honestly, it kind of blew my mind. There are twists to these two boys' stories that go beyond the normal YA contemporary. I want to tell you all about it, but I also don't, because I think it'll spoil too much. Some readers will probably be put off by these twists and might benefit a better idea of what they're getting into, but for those like me who will embrace it, I think remaining as spoiler free as possible will have more of an impact. Either way, it's pretty clear what's different about Because You'll Never Meet Me from early on in the book, so you'll be able to decide quickly enough if it's for you. Thomas teases tidbits right from the beginning and then simply builds upon it as you question if she's really going in the direction you think she is. I'm glad she did. Because You'll Never Meet Me delves into a darker side of humanity, of ambition and the search for better, for more, and does so by exploring our inherent desire for more in the smallest of ways to the biggest. It's a thought-provoking read and one full of emotion. I ran the gamut reading this book, from joy to anger, wonder to disgust and back again. I was hooked by this story, invested in everything Ollie and Moritz are and are going through. I came so very close to giving Because You'll Never Meet Me five stars, but while I ultimately loved the ending, it also felt a little rushed and therefore forced. I can't properly explain it, because I love what Thomas has intended, but it still feels like something was missing or didn't completely work.
Because You'll Never Meet Me is told entirely through the letters Ollie and Moritz write to each other and I loved that. It gives a perfect insight into these two unique characters, and allows the story to jump between the past and present as they learn to trust each other, and themselves, and reveal the stories of their lives. Ollie and Moritz are two very different characters, with such distinct voices, but at the same time they have so much in common. Moritz is so staid. He has seen the worst of the world and refuses to put himself out there, so he is angry and lonely, though he won't admit it. There's something more to Moritz than his pacemaker that shocked and awed me. Ollie wants nothing more than to experience everything and has the lively personality to match, but he is trapped by his allergy and other character's secrets and so desperately lonely. I liked both of them very much, but Ollie's exuberance, his babble, and his love of superheroes speak to me more. Ollie and I would get along like a house on fire! It's Ollie and Moritz's friendship that is the heart of Because You'll Never Meet Me. Their friendship, the way they learn to trust each other, to push each other, changes their lives and I loved every second of it. It's hope in the darkest of times, and that's how I ended this book. Inspired by Ollie and Moritz, and their friendship, and oh so hopeful.
Because You'll Never Meet Me is one of those books I feel blessed to have read. It's gorgeous and powerful, and it affected me.