Rating: 3 stars
Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from HMH Books for Young Readers via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.
Summary: Lily and Abelard are two teenagers who are wicked smart, but face challenges that make life a bit more difficult than for their peers. Through a very interesting (but very Lily and Abelard) event, they connect for the first time since childhood, finding in each other so much more than they ever expected. However, along the way, they have to not only come to understand each other’s challenges, but find a way to make their relationship work within the confines of those challenges. In the end, they are each offered paths that could help improve their lives significantly, but requires separation. What will they choose?
Review: What a truly difficult book for me to assess. Mostly because one of the things (the only thing really) that I struggled with is probably appropriate, but I’m not certain. That thing is the thing I struggle with lately in all contemporary YA these days: maturity. In a contemporary YA setting with neurotypical (NT) teens, I feel like these kids are portrayed as being rather immature for being sixteen. BUT. These kids are not, in fact, NT. Abelard has Aspergers and Lily has ADHD and dyslexia. Abelard is actually the more mature of the two, and having two children on the autism spectrum, his characterization seemed appropriate. However, Lily seemed rather immature – more like a 13 year old than a 16 year old – and as I have no experience with ADHD (and question whether dyslexia would affect maturity), I just can’t speak to the accuracy of the characterization or the effect of that particular diagnosis on a person’s maturity level. I imagine there are several reasons why it would, but this tangent is going too far off the map, so…she seemed immature to me for a 16 year old and that typically bothers me in YA because it makes me feel like teenagers aren’t given enough credit. But, she has a diagnosis of which I have zero experience, that could speak to that, so I’m trying to let it go.
The story itself was sweet and thoughtful and addressed many of the issues that come along with being neurodivergent, as well as raising someone/living with/loving someone who is neurodivergent. That was all very well done. And I loved that the author took the position that neurodivergent people can be independent, have dreams and feelings, can fall in love, are as human as any of us, even if that isn’t always evident to those living outside of that world.
And despite the maturity issue, I really did love Lily and Abelard, but especially Lily. She was thoughtful and feisty and open, and I loved her. And I loved them together.