Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Books I've Read: The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily
This is one of those really frustrating books that I enjoyed a lot while reading, but thought about a lot afterward and realized there were things bothering me about it.
Lily is the protagonist and narrator. She has ADHD and struggles with focus which has led to trouble at school. And when there's trouble, Lily's instinct is to run away. And she has struggles with impulse control which means Lily spends quite a bit of time running from trouble.
Lily meets Abelard when they both get detention for breaking a retractable wall between classrooms. Well, meets isn't exactly the right word because they've always known each other. It's more like they connect in detention. And the connection sparks to life when Abelard posts a quote from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise online.
The pair build a relationship through nightly text messages, but when they meet in person, Abelard's quirks - Abelard has some form of Aspergers or autism - and Lily's don't always align.
As they try to make their relationship work, Abelard and Lily discover that sometimes it's impossible to balance differing needs and love.
I really enjoyed Lily's voice in this book, especially when her ADHD made her misunderstand or mishear things. I got a real sense of how frustrating and difficult ADHD can be, and how challenging it must be to deal with on a daily basis.
I also really liked how much of both Lilly and Abelard's family lives were in the book. So often parents are almost absent from YA stories, so it was refreshing to have parents that were not just present, but important characters with their own lives and stories.
What niggled at me after I had finished was Abelard's characterization. I know Aspergers presents in many different ways, but I was uncomfortable with the way Abelard's was represented. It didn't feel authentic in many ways, but I can't quite put my finger on why.
The other thing that bothered me was the insta-love. I can't stand when characters fall in love at the drop of a hat because there wouldn't be a story if they didn't. I know people can and do fall in love quickly, but when they do, there's a good reason. There wasn't here.
But overall, I'd recommend this book because the POV is unique and in a world where an increasing number of kids are being diagnosed with ADHD, it's probably important to understand, even in a superficial way, how they think and why they act the way they do.
But don't just rely on me. Here's the blurb:
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.