Abelard and Lily are both neurodivergent. Abelard has Asperger’s and Lily has ADHD. Abelard fixes things and Lily destroys them. After an awkward kiss, a trip to detention and with the aid of a worn copy The Letters of Abelard and Heloise the two fall hard for each other.
I thought of Abelard, under the same anxious impulse to touch everything in the world of the here and now that we could feel with our hands. But unlike me, he was thinking about the hidden gears in the box, years of neglect and humidity, gears rusting away unused. He wanted to fix things, not destroy them. A more evolved monster, Abelard.
The story follows the couple as they try to navigate their respective neuroses, high school, and complicated home lives. Things get even more complicated as Abelard is accepted to a school for gifted students and Lily considers a procedure that could help tame the symptoms of her ADHD. Both grapple with what it means to be together, what it means to be themselves, and what is the best path forward.
I’d spent my entire life as a teacup with a jagged crack running down the side, an imperfect vessel threatening to spill my contents onto the table at any random moment. Tolerated but not adored. It didn’t seem like it would be even possible to love me. Probabilistically unlikely at best. But for Abelard, the jagged crack was the interesting thing about me.
This book stressed me out. Lily is a complete disaster and an unreliable narrator, which made me just want to shake her. Which is suppose is the whole point. I realized that everything that drove me crazy about Lily are the things she can’t control because of her ADHD. It was maddening and as someone who has recently been officially diagnosed with ADD, it was unfortunately relatable. Obviously, I don’t have the hyperactive component, but her forgetfulness, disorganization, and wandering brain all hit home. It reminded me of they way I always felt “other” in high school– not like I didn’t fit in, but almost like I was a different type of being with my own set of rules. How the things that normal teens struggle with came easy for me, but the things that came easy to them were a struggle for me, especially socially.
One thing I really didn’t like is anytime Lily was in a brain fog, the dialog was garbled. It was the written equivalent of the Charlie Brown teacher and it just really bothered me. I know it was written that way to prove a point, but I could have done without it.
In the end is was a sweet little unlikely love story set beside the question of how can you be true to yourself when who you are is something odd or destructive. Watching the character try to find their own sense of normal was interesting and like I said, very familiar.
Love is about being broken beyond repair in the eyes of the world and finding someone who thinks you’re just fine. More than fine, that you are special and precious because you understand how it feels to be broken and you have a real human heart.
This book completes my “Rep” Bingo Square: Both main characters are neurodivergent.