Lily’s mother has promised her that if she does well in school during her junior year she’ll be able to visit her dad for the summer. It’s been five years since he left the family and the life he leads on a goat farm seems like a dream to Lily. She imagines being homeschooled there, away from the difficulties of turning in appropriate paperwork and completing assignments, difficult tasks given Lily’s dyslexia and ADHD.
Then she starts texting with Abelard, a boy her age with Asperger’s. Abelard is brilliant at school, but he doesn’t have friends. The two have an easier time expressing their emotions over text, and finding quotes from the medieval Letters of Abelard and Heloise. Soon they are dating and trying to find a way to work around both their traits that make relationships difficult. Finding a way forward will mean accepting themselves for who they are, being honest with each other, and accepting help from others who care about them.
The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle is both heartbreaking and hopeful in it’s frank treatment of life for teens living with disabilities. Lily has a tendency to leave when things get difficult, so she skips school a lot. Abelard doesn’t like to be touched, which makes it hard for him to forge relationships. They both long for someone who understands what it’s like to be them. But overcoming their tendencies is hard work, and sometimes giving up seems like an easier option.
The book also shows what it’s like to be the parent of a teen like Lily or Abelard. Parents often try to balance their desire to fix what’s wrong for their children while granting them freedom to make life-changing decisions on their own. And Lily’s younger sister Iris, who goes to a school for gifted children, also struggles with how to be herself without making things more difficult for Lily. Creedle treats all of her characters with care while making them human and relatable.
I highly recommend The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily for mother-daughter book clubs with girl aged 13 and up.
The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.