Lily Michaels-Ryan thinks she’s broken. She’s ditched her ADHD meds because she doesn’t like how they make her feel and accidentally lands herself in detention with Abelard, a boy in her grade with Asperger’s.
Abelard is brilliant and beautiful, and although her mind seems to be perpetually thirty seconds ahead while his is thirty behind, Lily’s intrigued.
When a drawing Lily captioned accidentally goes up on the internet & Abelard sees it, Lily doesn’t know how he’ll react. But when he posts a quote from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, it bridges them together, but they’ll learn to bridge their differences as they fall in love.
You can read the official summary here.
I absolutely ADORED reading this! I felt so much and was so moved by Lily’s entire narrative. I felt her disappointment, her joy, her love and this book made me laugh and cry and feel.
This book helped remind me what I love about contemporaries. I’ve been reading so much science fiction and fantasy lately, and seeing this much character development and building such a strong relationship with our MCs made this such a worthwhile read.
Lily is such a real teenager. Her struggles with her mom imitated emotions that I’m sure every teenager has felt, even if Lily has a more serious issue going on.
I liked how Creedle wasn’t trying to shove Lily’s ADHD in our faces at every spare moment and made Lily seem like an alien foreigner–Lily was just a regular female MC with slightly different issues than a regular teen.
One of my favorite parts about this novel was Lily’s voice. Parts of her ADHD were shown in a lighter way as she sometimes struggles with hearing what people say if they speak too quickly. Random words of dialogue will be changed as to how Lily understands it, like (this is a made up example) “schlto lerm” instead of “school to learn.”
It’s brings humor into the narrative and helps tell readers “Hey! People with ADHD aren’t a different species, they’re just like you and me.”
Creedle did a great job in writing this in a way that wasn’t overly flowery, but in a way that resembles the mind of a sixteen-year-old-girl.
Honestly, I feel like this could have been an equally fantastic middle grade novel, teaching younger readers about this topic, but it was just as enjoyable as a YA.
Lily also adds her own snarky quips in sometimes, giving us a real view of her personality. I adore how her character was portrayed and feel like I really knew her.
Life isn’t all dandy for Lily, though. Creedle brings in internal and external issues for her, ranging from her own despair from thinking she’s broken to issues at school with grades, her relationship with Abelard, and her family (particularly her dad’s who’s now a goat farmer brewing homemade ale).
Creedle has done an exceptional job in illustrating a teenage girl’s mind, without factoring in how well she portrayed the different types of mental illnesses.
All of these factors contributed to a really well rounded narrative–not glossing over the fact that she actually has parents.
I think all of these aspects helped with the plot–this novel was paced very nicely and I sped through it in a couple of hours. There were multiple subplots involved which helped keep the pace while also making this novel more about Lily’s character development rather than one huge plot.
Lily’s relationship with Abelard is also a big factor in this as they learn to navigate each other’s boundaries and understand each other. I think their romance isn’t perfect–they have issues and don’t really communicate as much as they should (more in quotes from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise than anything else) but it’s not portrayed as something that’s supposed to be Lily’s one magnificent love of a lifetime.
I think the mental illness aspect of this novel was executed very well. It shows the realistic side of it–teachers not being mindful enough of students and bullying–while also showing that people with mental illnesses are still people.
This is a big message that I feel like a lot of people misunderstand. People either tiptoe around the words “autism” or “ADHD” or “OCD” etc., or they blatantly disregard all meanings and say offhand remarks like “That’s so ADHD.” These words aren’t taboo, but it’s also important to understand what these words actually mean before you use them.
The combination of such an adorable cast of characters plus important themes made this such a great read. I don’t think I’ve read a book about mental illnesses that has moved me as much as this one has. Not only does The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily teach wonderful messages to readers, it’s also just a fantastic story in general. I would recommend this to everyone–doesn’t matter what genre you like.
I cannot wait for Creedle’s The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily to come out in stores on December 26th (as well as whatever she’s going to write next)! I will definitely be purchasing a copy, and you can preorder it now from major booksellers!
Are you excited for The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily? What do you think of the story?
Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!