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by Leah Thomas
Read: May 11 - 18, 2015
Published: June 2, 2015 by Bloomsbury Children's Books
Source: Galley from Bloomsbury (TY!)
Category: YA, Bromance, Epistolary
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound
Book Description: Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie has a life-threatening allergy to electricity, and Moritz’s weak heart requires a pacemaker. If they ever did meet, they could both die. Living as recluses 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. But when Moritz reveals the key to their shared, sinister past that began years ago in a mysterious German laboratory, their friendship faces a test neither one of them expected.
Narrated in letter form by Ollie and Moritz—two extraordinary new voices—this story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances blends elements of science fiction with coming of age themes, in a humorous, dark, and ultimately inspiring tale is completely unforgettable.
Because You'll Never Meet Me is the story of a friendship between two boys who live in very different circumstances across the world from each other. Fourteen year old Ollie is allergic to electricity. He lives a secluded life in a cabin deep in the woods in America. Moritz is a sixteen year old boy living in Germany who has a weak heart and an electronic pacemaker. Basically, it would kill both of them if they were to ever meet. But in these impossible circumstances, a friendship grows.
My two favorite aspects of this book are Ollie and Moritz's unique voices and the strong friendship, or bromance, that develops between them. Sometimes in dual narrator books, I forget whose perspective I'm reading, but that never happened with this one. Not only are their continents, ages and lives different, but also the way they think and speak and see the world. I truly felt like I was able to get inside of each of their heads. Within these singular voices, a deep friendship develops. Trust doesn't come easily between them, and they each have moments of vulnerability, failure and heartbreak, but their care and honesty builds and flows out of a growing relationship that takes time. It is beautifully executed, and despite their differences, I don't think I could pick a favorite between them.
Although the central element of this book - the very human friendship between two teen boys - is very contemporary and universally relatable, this book is also science fiction. I think it's important to understand that going into this story, because it does require some suspension of disbelief to understand in full. While I think some aspects of the story could have worked if Ollie and Moritz were living with less extreme conditions, I appreciated the scientific and philosophical discussions that came out of their experiences. Especially the commentary on genetic engineering and the discussion of superhero culture. I hesitate to say more on this topic, but I enjoyed journeying through this book with both boys as they discover more about themselves and each other.
This book does have a bit of romance, but it's not central to the storyline. The focus really is on the relationship between Ollie and Moritz, and while I'm a romance girl at heart, I didn't realize how much I was craving a book that features a great bromance. Plus bromance is an excellent word, and I'm excited to use it more than once in this review.
Because You'll Never Meet Me isn't your typical YA read, and for me, that was a good thing. If you're nervous about it being categorized as "literary," know that this story is very readable and relatable. Not that literary fiction can't be both of those things. It was hard to say goodbye to these two boys at the end of the book, and I'm still thinking about what is happening to them now. I hope you'll take the time to get to know Ollie and Moritz too.
Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone
Author Leah Thomas Answers:
What inspired you to write Because You'll Never Meet Me?
If anyone is looking for evidence that I am first and foremost Queen of Doofuses, all they have to do is ask what inspired me to write about Oliver and Moritz. Never fails. See, in my almighty doofusry, I never considered that many people would ask this (even though it seems like the most natural question in the world!), and every time I’m asked, I snort like a donkey and totally flub my reply.
This is partially because these two frustrated, frustrating young men – Oliver and Moritz – have been a part of my life for a long time now, and when people ask about what began them, how they were spawned, I panic and my brain curls in on itself and I blurt out things like “I was basically raised on a cocktail of Roald Dahl, Radiohead and Blade Runner!” or “I grew up in the woods of northern Michigan!” or “I like FEELINGS!” or “Yes-one-time-I-had-a-penpal-but-it-was-so-awkward-let’s-never-talk-about-it!” or “I really think long-distance friendships with strangers can be very legitimate and don’t challenge me on this because the people of Tumblr are legion and will back me up on this one okay!” or “my parents are social workers!” or maybe all of these things at once, in a demented Frankenstein sentence: “Blade cocktail FEELINGS in the woods, but awkward penpal legit so legit and socialworkerents!”
I don’t know how to answer without saying everything. But more than that: explaining the origins of these kids, these characters who’ve become very real to me (and hopefully to others!) is like trying to explain how you can feel alone in a room full of people. How you can grow up and up and never feel like you’ve grown at all, but somehow everyone around you seems to have gotten there. This alienation we all feel sometimes, this sense of being different from others… Oliver and Moritz, if you sliced them open, would be chock-full of that. They are, in part, made from the fear that the distance between us and everything else is infinite.
Because You’ll Never Meet Me is a pretty universal story. It’s all about finding a place in the world, or a person who makes a place for you in the world. And I think the way to understand where we belong in relation to others is to truly understand and appreciate the distances between us, figurative or literal. And the only way to do that is to communicate. Through letters, by phone or online or through art or music or anything. Because even if it sounds cheesy, I’ll say what Ollie and Moritz know very well:
Words are the death of distance.
Words inspired this, like words inspire so many things.
Words inspired this, like words inspire so many things.
Leah Thomas frequently loses battles of wits against her students and her stories. When she's not huddled in cafes, she's usually at home pricking her fingers in service of cosplay. Leah lives in San Diego, California, and Because You'll Never Meet Me is her debut novel. Follow her on Twitter @blunderkinder
Full Tour Schedule
Full Tour Schedule
June 1: The Daily Dahlia
June 2: Paper Riot
June 3: Love is Not a Triangle
June 4: Writer of Wrongs
June 5: A Reader of Fictions
No I have never had a long distance friend. I would love to read this book. Thanks for having the giveaway.ReplyDelete
I've never had a long distance friendship before. My friends have moved away to different states, but I wouldn't categorize them as long distance since I can be on their doorsteps within 4-5 hours. Yeah, I live just on the other side of the state line of AL and GA. I think that it would be cool to have that sort of relationship.ReplyDelete
I just wasn't sure about this one -- I'm kind of selective with my YA contemps, since they're not really a fave of mine. I didn't have many long-distance friends in high school but then I went away to college and everyone was long distance. It's hard to keep up those friendships, though it's so wonderful to see them again after time away.ReplyDelete
It’s wonderful to have a book not with one, but two interesting male characters. I can appreciate that the author made their voices distinctive.ReplyDelete
I have one long distance friend and we either send packagers, connect over Facebook, or phone call.ReplyDelete
Stunning post Lauren. <3 You have made me so curious about this book. The friendship sounds aaamazing :D I'm so glad you liked it so much. <3 Hopefully I'll want to read it one day :) Thank you for sharing about it sweetie. <3ReplyDelete