Dear Fellow Hermit, My Name is Ollie Ollie UpandFree: Reading the letters of Oliver Paulot and Moritz Farber (Book Review)


Because You’ll Never Meet Me

Leah Thomas

Bloomsbury, July 2015

Rating: 4stars

20649195In this book review, we will read through the letters of two young boys destined to never meet each other, Oliver Paulot, a boy from the United States who is deathly allergic to electricity and Moritz Farber from Kreizig, Germany, a boy with a pacemaker, an electric heart. In reading their letters to each other, we will journey through their lonely lives and discover the reason of their condition, their letters revealing their secrets and their loneliness, using each other as support while navigating their individual lives, all the while knowing that they could never meet because of their circumstances.

In a stunning literary debut, two boys on opposite ends of the world begin an unlikely friendship that will change their lives forever. *1

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him. *2

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine. *3

 

letter1

Oliver Paulot grew up in a cabin in the middle of the woods, on a place devoid of any electricity which was fatal to him. It’s kind of like a boy in the wood story but modern and more real. His loneliness is more physical because of his isolation, growing up in the woods with just his mother, with no physical contact with the outside world. His only company were his books. The guy was kind of just like me, except for the fact that I know if he did not have that electricity allergy thing, he would go on to conquer the world by talking to every people he would meet. He’s a social kid. His story of how he was born, told at the very beginning, was fascinating; forgive me Oliver, his convulsion at the hospital and the way he was rescued by being rushed to the middle of the forest, far away from people, and from electricity.

letter2

Nice kid, Moritz. At first I was shocked on his behaviour but as I read his letters more and more, I kind of accepted that he’s a jerk. But the disturbing thing is Moritz is more like me than Ollie. Sure Ollie’s lonely but it’s not his choice whereas Moritz chose to be alone. As if there’s no good person in the world out there (I’m talking to myself). Sure he has this thing going on where he does not have eyes. He’s not really blind, he’s like the Daredevil. But maybe that’s enough to force oneself to seclusion. I shouldn’t judge. And the more I read his story, the more his loneliness makes sense.

 

letter3

The cool thing about Moritz is that he’s like a superhero. I don’t know if his condition was true or not or slightly real (I don’t have internet connection while writing this). Ollie’s like a superhero too but it’ll be at the end of the book when we’ll realize that. And Moritz speaks auf Deustch (because he’s German). Now I like Moritz more.

 

letter4

We’ll be talking about Moritz again, because what he said here was so real, so about the thing I said about him being a jerk, well he’s still a jerk but all of us are so that’s that.

 

letter5

See how positive Ollie is? I like the guy, seriously.And I feel his loneliness more, what with his company being just books and manga. I like that he was smart because of that and I feel his sadness when he wrote those words above about wanting the world but he could just look at it from the distance.

 

letter6

And Moritz strikes again. What he said was d*amn right painful, but is the written words sometimes more real than the real world? But in saying these words, we come to know Moritz’s character more and more. As for being happy without distractions? Yes, it’s hard.

 

letter7

Those were the words of Ollie’s mother, shared to Moritz in one of his letters. Ollie’s story was kind of slow to unfold, because he was focused on his heartache, his love affair with this girl named Liz. But his story, the mysteries surrounding it, is interesting, from the moment he was born to the time he heard the story of his father and his laboratory coat. His experiences inside the cabin and inside the forest were memorable, as well as his fight with the electric posts and fence keeping him inside the forest, away from the real world.

 

letter8

Moritz’s life was dark, which was weird because he’s not the one locked up in the cabin. But Moritz held the secret of Ollie’s story, as well as his own. Reading his letter was like being outside your home at night, feeling the dark and the cold air, whereas Ollie’s letter has this warmth in it, like staying outside on warm sunny day, feeling the sun in your skin.

The passage above was taken from the poem Moritz heard recited on a pub, which was a summary of what Mortiz feel about the world, before he started writing to Ollie. It mainly talks about loneliness as being part of one’s self, showing disdain on the real world.

 

letter9

The fatal flaw of every lonely people was revealed in this letter of Ollie, the words which were said by Liz to him. I’m not sure that this is a standard flaw of every lonely people, being selfish, but when you’re alone in a very long time, caring for other people would be a new concept for you.

letter10and11

 

letter11

This is the moment where Moritz and Ollie finally see each other’s point of view. Moritz’s admission that the world is frightening (though he knows it but it’s the first time he said it aloud, or rather wrote it with conviction and understanding rather than with disdain) is the first step into accepting the world as it is and being happy despite of it. Ollie, on the other hand, knows that he is different from the other kids but seeing in the world while wearing his womble made him realize that more, and he might not know that time, but he finally accepted the fact that he is special during that time he wore the womble.

 

letter12

The book ended with Ollie finally conquering the electric fence (sorry for the spoiler) keeping him inside the cabin, and the forest, exploring the world through his womble after Moritz explained the mysteries of their birth and existence. But more than conquering the world, Ollie and Moritz both decided explore and discover themselves first, and after that, maybe, they could finally meet each other.

*1, *2, *3: Good Reads

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