Despite having dyslexia and ADHD, sophomore Lily Michaels-Ryan is well-read when it comes to medieval literature. When she was a child, her father used to read her The Letters of Abelard and Héloïse, the tragic tale of two lovers in 12th-century France. Lily’s father has since moved away to a cooperative farm, and the only Abelard in her life is Abelard Mitchell, a classmate with Asperger’s syndrome. When Lily and Abelard get sent to the vice principal’s office after a classroom incident, something sparks between them and leads to an unexpected romance. With wit, empathy, and insight, first-time author Creedle traces the smitten teens’ growing understanding of each other’s disabilities and mutual desire to make their relationship work. Though they face many obstacles—Lily’s impulsiveness and propensity to break things, Abelard’s reticence and sensitivity to touch—they find ways to communicate, often through text messages. Readers will be moved by the sacrifices the teens make for each other, and the open-ended conclusion invites speculation while providing reassurance that the bonds formed between these characters won’t easily be broken.
When two white Texas teens—Lily with ADHD, Abelard with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder—fall in love, their romance loosely tracks that of their medieval predecessors.
If she raises her grades and stops skipping school, Lily might be allowed to visit Dad—medieval-history scholar–turned–Oregon goat farmer—this summer. Failure seems likely; Lily’s hidden her emotionally deadening meds in the bedroom she shares with her little sister, who attends a school for gifted kids. When Lily lands in detention with handsome, smart, socially isolated Abelard, he covers for her, earning her appreciative kiss. Having inadvertently exposed Abelard to online ridicule, Lily borrows from the letters of Abelard and Heloise and apologizes. A strong text-based and shaky in-person romance ensues. Abelard’s journey from social isolation to engagement is slow (hovering parents don’t help). While Lily’s dream of Oregon collapses with her grades, Abelard awaits admission to a prestigious college-prep program in New Mexico. At her mother’s urging, Lily consents to experimental brain surgery. Banishing or alleviating her symptoms could make college (previously ruled out) possible for her, too. As revealed in her trenchant narration, Lily’s smart, funny, impulsive, easily distracted—ADHD is part of her. How will excising it affect her? Her romance with Abelard? Everyone around her has an opinion, and so will readers. Because many teens with ADHD manage college without medication (the surgery option is fiction), the scenario’s either/or premise also merits examination.
Entertaining, thought-provoking, and unsettling—in a good way.
See the entire review here.
Saturday, December 30, 2017
603 North Lamar
Lily, 16, struggles with ADHD. She hates her medication, but without it, she loses focus and has difficulty controlling her impulses. One of these impulses leads her to Abelard, a classmate with Asperger’s syndrome. They’re probably the only teens at their school who have read The Love Letters of Abelard and Heloise, and they begin a text correspondence in which they quote the book heavily. In fact, the text sessions seem better than some of their real-life encounters. As their relationship flourishes, Lily feels bound for eventual disaster. Abelard recognizes her best qualities, but his own issues create tension. When Lily thinks she is going to lose Abelard, she goes into full destructive mode, which, ironically, gets her headed in the right direction. Creedle’s debut novel is rich and thoughtful, and Lily, the first-person narrator, is feisty, funny, and introspective. Abelard’s portrayal dispels the erroneous notion that people with autism lack emotion. Lily’s best friend Rosalind, her overachieving younger sister Iris, and her mother are particularly realistic and effective foils to Lily’s turmoil. — Donna Scanlon