Hi everyone! Welcome to Nox Reads, I’m Nox, and I don’t know how I feel after reading THE LOVE LETTERS OF ABELARD AND LILY by Laura Creedle.

Note: This review is not for Laura Creedle or friends/loved ones of Laura Creedle. This space is for readers and reviewers, not the author.

Content Warning: This book and review talks in depth about suicidal ideation, suicide, being “broken” because you’re neurodivergent, medications and their side effects, ableism, consent on medical issues, and the idea that having brain surgery can help “fix” neurodivergence.

Bookshop.org Link to buy THE LOVE LETTERS OF ABELARD AND LILY. This is an affiliate link so I receive a commission if it’s used! If you want to read the book for yourself after you read this review, you can buy it here.

First things first, I want to clarify a few things. I talk a lot about my own (and occasionally, about my loved ones and their own) experiences with being autistic and ADHD. Both exist on a spectrum, so these experiences may not be related to yours or those of someone you know. I can only speak from what I know and how this made me feel. Secondly, this book seems to be very anti-medication. I am not. Medication is important and can help save people’s lives. However, it’s also something where you have to find the right combination. Before you get to that combination, a lot can possibly happen, and I feel like this book talks about one of those very real possibilities, and that’s important to talk about. Thirdly, I am unbelievably frustrated with Lily’s mom throughout this review. I’m not a parent. I don’t know what it’s like raising a kid, let alone a neurodivergent one when the world isn’t accessible for them, let alone all by yourself. What I do know is what it’s like being that kid. The one who thinks their family will be happier if they leave because it seems like nothing they do is right. I know what it’s like to try to communicate with your parents and be unable to, or feel like when you do, it doesn’t matter what you say. And I know the damage that causes, and how it takes a very long time to heal from that (I haven’t yet). So my frustration comes from that. I don’t talk about Lily’s dad because he’s barely in the book, but my anger with him comes less from his relationship to Lily’s ADHD and her consent, and more with him leaving the family and not being there for her.

With that said, let’s finally, get into the review.

When I first finished the book, I loved it! I think there are a lot of great things about it, like the way it shows how frustrating it can be as a neurodivergent teen to try and get your parents to understand you and why you feel the way you do. I think it shows how difficult communication can be for us, as well as how we can be overestimated in our abilities without accommodations versus underestimated because of our neurodivergences. I think it also shows the side effects of medications and how drastic those effects can be. I’m pro-medication, just to be clear. I’ve taken Lexapro to help my anxiety, and I know that finding the right meds for what you need. But because I’ve taken them, I also know that they can have very serious side effects, like suicidal ideation (which threw me, at first, because that was the whole reason I started taking them in the first place). I have never ever read a book that talks about those side effects before the way that this book does. And I also think it shows the lack of autonomy given to neurodivergent teens regarding their own treatment plan, which is where we start to get into my issue with the book.

Lily’s ADHD makes it very difficult for her to be productive at school. Sometimes she finds herself wandering and the next thing she knows, she’s skipped school. She pays too much attention to “the wrong thing”. She can’t always process what she is hearing, which makes it difficult to answer questions and follow directions. She has several other comorbidities, like dyslexia, that also make it difficult to be productive.

Because of this, Lily has been on several drug therapies to try and find the right medication to help her ADHD. This is normal – my partner has told me many times about the different medications he tried and how they had to increase the dose until he eventually couldn’t take more. He told me about how much he struggled when he first started taking meds because he had to adjust to them. I can tell you that I was very out of it the first two weeks I started taking Lexapro, and I was an adult. I can’t imagine doing that as a kid, but it helps a lot of people.

It isn’t helping Lily though, and she doesn’t want to take the meds. She’s tried telling her mom how they make her feel, but eventually, she decides to stop taking them on her own and store them in a jar underneath her bed. All of this before the book even starts.


The problem is, since there’s an adjustment period when you first start taking medication, there’s another adjustment period when you start lowering the dose. Even more so if you stop taking medication completely. So Lily is struggling even more, and after accidentally breaking a movable wall (I still don’t understand this, and it sets up the whole book), her mom realizes she isn’t taking her meds, finds them, and starts monitoring Lily every morning and making her take them in front of her.

Listen. ADHD can make people forgetful. My partner and I literally started taking our meds in front of each other at the same time so that we wouldn’t forget to do this. I’ve been told that some neurotypicals find this infantilizing, but it’s an actual helpful strategy. If you actually want to be taking those meds.

Lily is sixteen. Legally, her mother is in charge of medical decisions for her. But her mother also doesn’t know what it’s like to be in her head. Even other people with ADHD wouldn’t completely understand, because that’s the fun thing about mental illnesses, they can manifest in very very very different ways depending on the person, even if it’s the same diagnosis. My ADHD and autism? Pretty different than my partner’s, or from our friends’. Nobody can know how Lily feels on these like Lily does. Especially not her neurotypical mother.

Lily is going down a pretty clear spiral, to the point where someone places her on suicide watch. Her grades are failing, she’s not as focused or as responsive as usual, and outside of her texts with Abelard, her boyfriend, she doesn’t really get excited about the things she used to. And it’s frustrating to see what follows that as a “solution” to the spiral.


The more I sit with this, the angrier I get. Lily’s mom is frustrated because she doesn’t think Lily has talked to her teachers about getting her grades fixed (she has), that Lily is failing on purpose (she is, but because of reasons revealed later on), that she doesn’t want to take her meds (she doesn’t, for reasons revealed later on), and that she wants to go live with her dad instead (she does, again, for reasons revealed later on). So, while at the end of her rope, Lily’s mom decides that the solution is to talk to a doctor she met. Not a therapist. A brain surgeon.

She wants Lily to get an electrode implanted in her brain. It’s “minor” brain surgery and totally reversible! Lily says she’ll think about it, and broken and beaten down, she tells her mom to book the appointment. To which her mom tells her that she already did. So Lily really never had a choice.

They’re in the doctor’s office, and Lily is hyperfixating on a puzzle. The doctor asks her a question, and because she’s still hyperfixating on the puzzle, Lily answers all of the questions bluntly and to the point, revealing that the reason she didn’t want to take her meds is because after a few months, they started making her feel numb and suicidal. Her mom is upset because she didn’t know, but Lily thinks about how she told her mom how desperately she didn’t want to be on them.

“I’d been telling her for months how much I hated the drugs. I’d thought she’d understood.”

After the doctor sends her mom out of the room, he asks Lily if she wants to have the surgery.

“So, Lily, what do you think about all this?” he said finally. 
“I don’t know,” I said, looking around at his diplomas, the bookcase behind him. “Does it really matter what I think?”

Lily eventually decides to have the surgery after the doctor tells her that it will help her regulate her ideas, and she’ll be able to go to college while still being able to feel things.

After what seems like a celebration for Lily deciding to get the surgery, they stop by her school to let the faculty know that Lily’s going to be missing several days for medical appointments. While there, Lily’s mom explains that Lily failed geography because of a project that was worth 40% of her grade, and how she didn’t get the instructions verbally according to her 504 accommodations, so she shouldn’t have failed (the teacher gave her a 0% because she didn’t fill out a self-evaluation, which she wasn’t able to see on the rubric he had handed her. Everything else she did perfectly). The school then explains that they didn’t know Lily had 504 accommodations, and after a call with her middle school, they realize that they weren’t sent over or there was a mix-up when the new system was put in. Either way, Lily’s accommodations were never on file, so they were never followed. Lily had been talking to her teachers and trying to work with them and explain, but didn’t know/wasn’t comfortable talking specifically about her 504 accommodations to them, especially since the geography teacher was one of those “this wouldn’t fly in the adult world” (something he actually said) teachers.

Everyone — Rosalind, Mom, Mrs. Rogers-Peña, even Humberto the Star Trek therapist — had suggested that I invoke my 504 accommodations at regular intervals. But I had no idea that the phrase “504 accommodations” was a magical spell I could cast that would cause unicorns and rainbows to issue forth from the sky. No idea at all.

The book ends with Lily reflecting on her ADHD the night before the surgery, comparing herself to Frankenstein’s monster. The only thing I liked about this scene was Abelard reassuring her that no matter what happened with the surgery, he’d still love her. Because that’s what you’d want to hear before literal brain surgery that you’re still not 100% sure about!

With the ending as open-ended as it is, in my heart, Lily decided against the surgery that morning. She goes to school and is able to adjust with her 504 accommodations and pick up her grades. She and Abelard stay in their long distance relationship, texting each other quotes from medieval literature, and Lily writes about all of this for her college admissions essay, and she gets into a great English Literature program. That’s my ending for this, and I refuse to imagine anything else, because there is no reason for a healthy brain to require brain surgery.

Meds aren’t the same as surgery. Medications help level out chemicals that your brain produces. Remember y’all, if you can’t make your own dopamine, store bought is fine. That is not the same as having electrodes implanted into your brain for some vague experimental procedure that you can’t even completely explain how it works! Lily is 16 years old! You just told her that this is her ticket to college! Everyone is frustrated with her, she’s suicidal, of course she’s going to agree to something that is a “promised” solution to “fix” what she thinks is the source of her pain!


So much of this book focuses on how they’re only broken by neurotypical standards and how Lily and Abelard understand each other because they know what it’s like to be neurodivergent. They love each other, accept each other, and they meet each other where they’re at. I don’t know if it’s because I see Ian in Lily and myself in Abelard that this has me so upset, or if I’m just upset because I know that this is just wrong, but it’s been a week since I’ve read this book and I’m still upset.

Eventually, we find our people. We find the people that get it and help us try and make things more accessible. Maybe you need calendars and to-do lists and systems and dedicated days like I do. Maybe you need a body double and someone to help keep you accountable like Ian and some of our friends do. Maybe you need a server full of people that have your back. You aren’t broken. You exist in a world that caters to people whose brains work differently than yours. And it can be exhausting and stressful and cruel, but that is not your fault. And once you find your people and figure out what you need to make things work better for you, it gets so much better. You don’t need fixing. You exist as a perfect fractal. Don’t let anyone, including yourself, tell you otherwise.

This link leads to a list of international suicide prevention hotlines.


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