BECAUSE YOU'LL NEVER MEET ME

A witty, unusual take on friendship and parlaying weakness into power.

Opposites attract—and repel—in Thomas' epistolary debut novel.

Ollie sees his new German pen pal, Moritz, as a potential lifeline. Ollie’s allergy to electricity has exiled him and his mother to a cabin in the Michigan woods with little company besides Auburn-Stache, his unconventional doctor, and Liz, a girl who brings him news from the world of TVs and humidifiers. Buzzing with awkward wisecracks and restless energy, he draws the aloof, sardonic Moritz into conversation. Rescued from a lab, Moritz requires a pacemaker and lacks eyes, but he insists he isn't blind; he can acutely sense his surroundings by clicking his tongue. Unfortunately, superecholocation and sarcasm don't help him fight a bully or approach Owen, the boy who treats him like a human. Ollie and Moritz need each other, even if they won't admit it. Isolation and the intimacy afforded by distance sharply focus the characters' developments; their personalities take shape quickly, and their relationship deepens as they play off each other’s anecdotes and insults. The humorous and increasingly emotional exchanges create cliffhangers, culminating in occasionally disturbing revelations about the boys' origins. Their link is heavily foreshadowed, while other plotlines remain open enough to give the ending a sense of anticipation as well as satisfaction.

A witty, unusual take on friendship and parlaying weakness into power. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61963-590-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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