Author: Leah Thomas
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK/ANZ
Date of Publication: July 1st 2015
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher
There are truths you can only tell a stranger, and this friendship is the strangest.
Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet, because if they ever did, one of them would certainly die. As recluses from society, they develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline.
But when Moritz reveals the key to their shared, disturbing past in a myesterious German laboratory, their friendship cases a test neither one of them expected.
This is a story of impossible friendship and hope from a brilliant new writer.
This book was such a pleasant surprise. Ollie is allergic to electricity and as such has led an isolated life in the woods, unable to leave his home or interact with modern technology in any way. Any contact with an electrical device leads to violent seizures.
Moritz is also not your average teenager. He was born without eyes, but he is not blind.
Ollie's doctor, Dr Auburn-Stache, suggests that the two boys write to each other as a way to help Ollie deal with a recent trauma, and the book is made up of these letters. I love epistolary novels, because it allows the characters to develop completely distinct voices and we see only what they choose to reveal to each other.
Ollie is heartsick over Liz, the only friend he has ever had, who no longer comes to visit him after a tragic event. Moritz is lonely and isolated. Considered a freak by his peers, he tries to avoid human interaction where possible.
The relationship that develops between Ollie and Moritz is wonderful. As they slowly unpack each other's lives, and encourage each other to move beyond their limitations, we witness the growing bond between them.
I don't want to give away any more about the plot, other than to say there were a few sci-fi elements that I didn't expect. The story is very well written and we're taken on parallel emotional journeys while Moritz and Ollie work to find out what caused them to be the way they are, and how to live with their differences.
My initial thoughts on finishing were that this story was beautiful, shocking, moving and surprising.