When two white Texas teens—Lily with ADHD, Abelard with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder—fall in love, their romance loosely tracks that of their medieval predecessors.
If she raises her grades and stops skipping school, Lily might be allowed to visit Dad—medieval-history scholar–turned–Oregon goat farmer—this summer. Failure seems likely; Lily’s hidden her emotionally deadening meds in the bedroom she shares with her little sister, who attends a school for gifted kids. When Lily lands in detention with handsome, smart, socially isolated Abelard, he covers for her, earning her appreciative kiss. Having inadvertently exposed Abelard to online ridicule, Lily borrows from the letters of Abelard and Heloise and apologizes. A strong text-based and shaky in-person romance ensues. Abelard’s journey from social isolation to engagement is slow (hovering parents don’t help). While Lily’s dream of Oregon collapses with her grades, Abelard awaits admission to a prestigious college-prep program in New Mexico. At her mother’s urging, Lily consents to experimental brain surgery. Banishing or alleviating her symptoms could make college (previously ruled out) possible for her, too. As revealed in her trenchant narration, Lily’s smart, funny, impulsive, easily distracted—ADHD is part of her. How will excising it affect her? Her romance with Abelard? Everyone around her has an opinion, and so will readers. Because many teens with ADHD manage college without medication (the surgery option is fiction), the scenario’s either/or premise also merits examination.
Entertaining, thought-provoking, and unsettling—in a good way. (Fiction. 12-16)