Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Leah Thomas
Ollie and Moritz are pen pals, but they will never meet. Moritz has a heart condition that requires him to have a pacemaker, while Ollie suffers from life-threatening seizures whenever he is around any kind of electricity. Both are outcasts, detached from society in their own way. Ollie lives in forced isolation in the woods with his mother, far away from any electricity but also from any human contact. Moritz lives in a bustling city in Germany but, due to his own strange abilities and disabilities, feels apart from the world and experiences profound loneliness even in the most crowded surroundings. Though their lives are so different, through written correspondence, Ollie and Moritz help each other to grapple with the difficulties of being human. But as they get closer and truth comes out about some of the most painful details of each boy’s past, they realize that their stories may be more connected than either of them knew.
Because You’ll Never Meet Me is told entirely through letters between Ollie and Moritz. The fonts used for Ollie’s letters and for Moritz’s are different, but the author is also skillful enough at characterization that, even if the fonts were not different, it would be easy to differentiate between the two characters due to the differing voices she creates for them. These distinct voices remain consistently believable for the characters, even as the boys develop throughout the events of the story. Though this book is presented as realistic, there are elements of the plot that stretch the scope of reality. In the book, science gives these boys certain abilities that would not be possible in real life and yet are not presented as supernatural but as just rare phenomena that could, nonetheless, be possible. This approach prevents the less realistic aspects of the story from distracting from the real heart of the book. Ultimately, the true focus is the importance of friendship, especially for those who feel cast out from society as a result of disability.
*Contains mild language.