Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

Received from NetGalley for review.

Sometimes stories end with a happy ever after. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they seem to appear just for the hell of it, which is what seems to have happened in Because You’ll Never Meet Me. Now, I love a good happy ending, but after the heart breaking tragedy that is this novel, I did not want everything tied up neatly and mostly bursting with smiles and sunshine. I’m not buying it. It all seemed a bit too convenient, fell into place a bit too well, if you get what I mean. However, let’s ignore the ending for a bit, because the first 80% or so of this novel was lovely. Tragic, yes, and nearly unbearably sad, but lovely all the same.

Because You’ll Never Meet Me tells the story of fourteen year old Ollie and sixteen year old Moritz. They become unlikely pen pals, Ollie in America and Moritz in Germany, because they both have to deal with unfortunate disabilities. Ollie is allergic to electricity; if he goes anywhere near it he violently seizes. Moritz has a pacemaker and was born with no eyes, meaning that he and Ollie can never meet, despite realising they have a connection, and are possibly linked by Moritz’s mother, who pioneered a lab for the genetically unusual. It is an unusual story, and successfully mixes humour with some very dark and intense moments (which makes the happy ever after ending all the more unbelievable).

The story is told through letters between Ollie and Moritz, and their narrative voices are very clear and different – Ollie is an eternal optimist, whereas Moritz, who has had very unpleasant experiences in the real world, is bitter and angry. Deep down, though, both boys are very lonely and isolated, largely stuck within their own minds. Reading their relationship develop was a lovely experience and I really enjoyed the friendship that developed between them, and seeing how they both figured out what friendship is through the letters. You gradually learn about their lives and the things they have experienced, and I soon found some strong themes throughout the novel – acceptance, friendship, love, disability and prejudice. There is also a mystery regarding a laboratory throughout, which adds a certain level of intrigue.

All in all Because You’ll Never Meet Me is an unusual and interesting novel, and I liked the way it was told through letters that showed how friendships can develop and people can change. Even though the ending didn’t work for me I know many people will thoroughly enjoy this novel, and sympathise deeply, feel strongly, and laugh heartily with Ollie and Moritz.

Read: July 12th-15th 2015

3/5 stars

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