20 July 2015

Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

There is something delightful about epistolary novels. One of my favorite things in life is getting an actual handwritten letter from a friend (I have two with whom I exchange mail fairly frequently). There is something very honest about writing a letter that lets you into the very heart of someone.

In BECAUSE YOU’LL NEVER MEET ME, we get into the heart of two people: Oliver Paulot, an American boy who’s allergic to electricity, and Moritz Farber, a German boy with a pacemaker who was born with no eyes and somehow developed the ability to echolocate like a bat.

It’s a weird setup, to say the least. But it works.

As Ollie unburdens himself in uninhibited verbal diarrhea, Moritz is cautious, even rude at first, but he eventually opens up as well.

Ollie tells Moritz about his friend Liz, the first girl he ever met (and the first girl he ever fell in love with). He writes about his life in the woods, far away from any sources electricity. He's not just allergic to it: they repel each other, like magnets with the same polarity.

Moritz tells Ollie all about his travails with the school bully, his difficulty making friends, and his home life. He eventually trusts Ollie enough to tell him about his mother (a pretty chilling character) and his life story.

It turns out, the two are more connected than they ever realized.

Often in books with two points-of-view, one will dominate the other, or be more enjoyable (subjectively) than the other. That was not the case with BECAUSE YOU’LL NEVER MEET ME. I enjoyed Ollie’s erratic stream-of-consciousness just as much as Moritz’s taciturn but earnest writing. Both were pitch-perfect, and felt both timeless and timely.

Ollie and Moritz's stories end like all good letters end: with a fond goodbye, and the hope for a bright future.