The Love Letters of Abelard and Lilyby Laura Creedle
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, HMH Books for Young Readers on December 26th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
When Lily Michaels-Ryan ditches her ADHD meds and lands in detention with Abelard, who has Asperger’s, she’s intrigued—Abelard seems thirty seconds behind, while she feels thirty seconds ahead. It doesn't hurt that he’s brilliant and beautiful.
When Abelard posts a quote from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise online, their mutual affinity for ancient love letters connects them. The two fall for each other. Hard. But is it enough to bridge their differences in person?
This hilarious, heartbreaking story of human connection between two neurodivergent teens creates characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading.
When I first saw this book a year ago, I jumped all over the “request” button; I couldn’t hit it fast enough. And then a weird thing happened… I was afraid to read it. You see (full disclaimer here →), my son is high functioning autistic (PDD-NOS but now it’s just labeled autism). I was afraid a bad ending in this story was going spoil all the hope I have for my son to find love in his life.
But just like the HUGE spectrum that ADHD, autism, Asperger’s, and sensory processing disorder sit on, this book and it’s story was not at all close to anything for me to be afraid of. I mean, really? I’m such a nut…
This wonderful story of ONE girl managing her ADHD and dyslexia in a world that doesn’t make it easy for her to be herself… and she finds the ONE boy who can, and DOES, understand her the best.
Lily breaks things. She can’t help it. It just happens around her. She is so inquisitive about everything around her that she has to KNOW. She’s sees beauty in a glass blown lemonade pitcher and wants to look closer. And that’s when things usually go wrong…
One day in school, Lily hears someone jiggling the handle on the other side of an accordion wall in her classroom. Thinking they are trying to open the door, she helps things along by tugging on the door handle until it breaks and springs open to reveal Abelard Mitchell on the other side, one of the most beautiful guys she’s ever seen in her life. Beautiful, quiet, brooding, Abelard… who she has a past with… 😉
I’ll stop right there because I’m starting to tell the story and I don’t want to do that! I will tell you that the synopsis is slightly misleading. I had read a much better synopsis when the book originally “dropped” on NetGalley and Edelweiss. And unless my ARC copy was completely changed (and that would suck eggs), Abelard doesn’t post the quote online. Someone else does.
But it IS through quotes from the classic The Love Letters of Abelard and Heloise that Abelard and Lily communicate and get to know each other via text. It is sweet, romantic, and, I thought, completely unique.
Yes, this is a love story, don’t forget that, but in my humble opinion, I think this story will resonate with all teens. There’s an underlying thread about Lily’s dyslexia and ADHD. It’s not easy being a teen and being “different”. Getting the grown-ups to listen? That’s a whole other battle that Lily fights on a daily basis and I felt her struggle. Speaking of parents who could do better listening to their kids…
The supporting characters added depth to the story and help carry the plot along. This is a case where all the supporting characters fit right in, don’t get in the way, and are “fleshed out” enough that you understand the motivations behind their actions. You might not like what they did, but you understood why based on their personalities.
The other thing this story had going for it, at least for me? NO extraneous conversations in the character’s head. I literally ate up every single word that our narrator, Lily, said. Being inside her mind was enlightening, both in what she said and what she DIDN’T say. If you know someone who is “neuro-divergent” you’ll might pick up on the subtleties in Lily’s world.
I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this story. Even the ending! I don’t think there was any other way to end it (yes, I peeked at reviews on Goodreads. Sorry, not sorry).
My heart was squeezed tight the entire time I read this story. This book definitely belongs in every high school library so every teen knows it’s okay to be yourself. Really, it’s okay…