Unusual circumstances lead two remarkably different boys to become pen pals. They’ll never meet, as Ollie is severely allergic to electricity and Moritz relies on his pacemaker to keep his weak heart pumping. Ollie lives in an isolated cabin deep in the woods, longing for people and things he can never have. Moritz lives in a crowded city and longs for nothing more than solitude. As they compose autobiographical letters to one another, each discovers that what he needs most is a true friend.
Don’t be fooled by the mild-mannered premise. This book explodes with sci-fi-esque drama as the boys explore the secret genetic experiments which connect them. Bring your willing-suspension-of-disbelief and be prepared for the reward of a wild ride. What tops the story, though, are its central characters. Thomas has created a distinct voice for each boy. As the letters progress, each boy grows. They challenge one another. They wrestle with the obstacles and losses that life throws at them. They draw us in and move our hearts.
I read somewhere recently that one of the benefits of reading for children (indeed for us all) is that it inspires us to have empathy for those different from ourselves. Thomas succeeds in this venture. Through her words, we share in and sympathize with Ollie’s desperate optimism and Moritz’s fragile first rays of hope. We find ourselves reminded about the power of honesty between friends, about the vital truth that we are all valuable, all human. It’s a powerful, ultimately inspiring story.
Profanity used with moderate frequency.
Brief kissing – boy/girl and once boy/boy.
Moritz and another boy suffer at the hands of a bully. Descriptions are short but disturbing. The bully ends up severely injured later.
Soundclip from Audiobook (available at Audible.com)