Ollie and Moritz are two teenagers who will never meet. Each of them lives with a life-affecting illness. Contact with electricity sends Ollie into debilitating seizures, while Moritz has a heart defect and is kept alive by an electronic pacemaker. If they did meet, Ollie would seize, but turning off the pacemaker would kill Moritz.
Through an exchange of letters, the two boys develop a strong bond of friendship which becomes a lifeline during dark times – until Moritz reveals that he holds the key to their shared, sinister past, and has been keeping it from Ollie all along.
Well this book certainly hit me like a ton of bricks. Friendship meets love meets disability meets coming of age meets Perks of Being a Wallflower makes for a beautiful story which has stayed with me long after I finished it. Written entirely through letters, Thomas has created two characters so unique, not only in their impairments (allergic to electricity?! Born with no eyes but able to use echolocation to see?!) but also in their voices. From the offset Ollie and Moritz were alive to me, in the way they write and the way they think, and part of the beauty of the story was seeing how they impacted each other, how they changed each other’s perceptions and realities.
Set as counterpoints to one another, Ollie and Moritz’s lives simultaneously echo and repel (repel, electricity, d’ya get it??) each other. Ollie is trapped, isolated and alone in the woods, yet still somehow persistently sociable, while Moritz is immersed in a society he finds only isolating and segregating. Ollie possesses a boundless puppy-like enthusiasm which perfectly opposes, and later influence’s Moritz’s sober melancholy. Watching the two boys grow and develop and transform each other is something of a character arch’s dream.
And that’s all I really have to say. Despite what I believe is a terrible title (it makes it seem like some awful chick-lit), Because You’ll Never Meet Me is an original and moving debut novel which completely took me by surprise, and which I would highly recommend.