Welcome to the Sunday Street Team! I was provided an excerpt of this book. I hope you enjoy!
Title: The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily
Author: Laura Creedle
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication date: December 26, 2017
Summary (via Goodreads): When Lily Michaels-Ryan ditches her ADHD meds and lands in detention with Abelard, who has Asperger’s, she’s intrigued—Abelard seems thirty seconds behind, while she feels thirty seconds ahead. It doesn’t hurt that he’s brilliant and beautiful.
When Abelard posts a quote from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise online, their mutual affinity for ancient love letters connects them. The two fall for each other. Hard. But is it enough to bridge their differences in person?
This hilarious, heartbreaking story of human connection between two neurodivergent teens creates characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading.
Down at the office, kindly Mrs. Treviño eyed my yel- low Skrellnetch form with visible regret.
“Lily, what happened?” she said, as though I’d twisted an ankle in gym, or had some other not-my-fault kind of accident.
“I broke the sliding wall between Coach Neuwirth’s and Ms. Cardeña’s rooms.”
Mrs. Treviño sighed deeply. I looked away as my lips started to quiver. A gray cloud of shame descended on me with remorseless speed. I’d like to be the good, thoughtful person Mrs. Treviño had mis- taken me for. A person who doesn’t break stuff.
“Well, you’re not the only one,” she said. “Come on back.”
She escorted me to the inner chamber. There, by the vice principal’s office, were two ugly orange chairs. On one chair sat Abelard Mitchell. I took one look at him and knew he’d been on the other side of the wall pulling up on the handle while I pushed down.
Mrs. Treviño gestured to the empty chair and left us alone in the waiting area.
I’d known Abelard since kindergarten. Since my last name was Michaels-Ryan and his was Mitchell, we stood next to each other at every elementary school function. Abelard was tall and slim but broad-shouldered, with a mop of sable brown hair and dark blue eyes. He was gorgeous, but he had some sort of processing delay, mild autism or Asperger’s syndrome or something. He didn’t interact like everyone else.
But sure. Neither did I. When I was seven, I acciden- tally smacked Abelard with my metal lunchbox because I couldn’t stop swinging my arms. I cut his cheek, but he didn’t cry, and no one noticed until later, so now he had this little scar, which was weirdly sexy. Abelard never said anything. He had to have noticed that I was standing there in front of him swinging my Hello Kitty lunchbox with happy, maniacal abandon.
I liked to believe that he could have cashed me in to the teacher and he didn’t.
I dropped into the chair next to him, feeling suddenly nervous to be sitting on a chair that was actually bolted to his chair — as though even the furniture was there to be punished.
“Hey,” I said, a little too loudly. “So you were on the other side of the wall? Who knew it would break like that? You’d think a handle roughly the same age as the Titanic would be sturdier. Although I guess that’s a bad compari- son.”
He said nothing. He was probably thinking about com- puter games, or quantum physics, or the novels of Hermann Hesse. From all available information, which I’ll admit was limited, Abelard was pretty brilliant.
“You were on the other side of the wall.” Abelard glanced at me and looked away.
“Yes.” I felt a strange thrill of complicity. “Usually, I’m here by myself. Why did you …”
I stopped before I asked him the stupidest of questions: Why did you break that? My least favorite question in the history of questions.
“The mechanism was squeaking. One of the gears is rusted. They need to oil it.”
I nodded. I didn’t know what to say, or if there was anything to say. I thought of Abelard, under the same anx- ious 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.
He leaned over and peered at me from under his shaggy fringe of hair. I caught a hint of his warm scent. Nice.
“Lily Michaels-Ryan,” he said. “You were in my English class last year. You hit me with a lunchbox in first grade.”
“Yeah, sorry about that,” I said. “I hope it didn’t hurt too much. On the plus side, I really do like the scar. It makes you look like a pirate, a little disreputable, you know?”
Abelard brought his hand to his cheek and traced the edges of the scar as though checking to see if it was still there. Suddenly, I wanted to run my hand along his cheek- bone to feel for that slightly raised skin, proof of my earlier bad act.
The sight of his hand on his cheek made me conscious of where my hand was on the arm of the chair, touching the sleeve of his shirt. A phone rang in the office around the corner. Mrs. Treviño’s voice came from the outer office, but it felt like she was on the other side of the world. We were alone.
“Abelard, why didn’t you tell anyone that I hit you with my lunchbox?” I said. “I never got in trouble for that.”
Abelard frowned in slow motion. He seemed slightly offended, like I’d accused his seven-year-old self of being a tattletale and a snitch. I’d been right. He had protected me, one freak to another. I felt a swell of something more than gratitude, more than surprise.
Abelard’s lips parted slightly, like he had something to say that he didn’t want anyone else to hear. I wanted to know what he was thinking. Suddenly, what Abelard had to say seemed like the most important thing in the world.
I turned my head and put my arm down on the chair to lean in so he could whisper in my ear. My arm slipped on the ancient vinyl, and I accidentally moved too close to Abelard, which is a thing that I do. I’m not good with per- sonal space.
Abelard didn’t say anything. I felt his warm breath on the side of my face, a thousand little hairs on my cheek moving in the soft breeze, and I thought of his cheek and how I’d wanted to run my finger along the edge of his scar. And still it seemed like Abelard had something to say, but it wasn’t coming, and maybe he was too anxious to speak. I didn’t know what to say either. My brain was not forming thoughts in English.
I lifted my face and he looked away. But his lips were there, centimeters from mine.
I kissed him. The kiss was over before I really knew what I was doing, just a momentary soft press of my lips against his. A stray impulse that didn’t make sense, my wires crossed by the randomness of the day.
What was I thinking?
“Well, it was nice of you not to tell on me, even though you were only seven.” I went on talking as though I hadn’t just kissed him. I do this a lot. When you live at the mercy of your impulses like I do, you pretty much have to.
“Maybe you should have told someone? You probably needed stitches. Not that I don’t like the scar — it’s a great scar.”
Abelard brought his index finger to his lips and frowned. He had one of those serious, symmetrical faces that a slight frown only improves.
“Lily,” he said slowly, “I — ”
I braced myself for a quick, awkward rejection, but before Abelard could finish his sentence, Vice Principal Krenwelge rounded the corner. I didn’t know whether to be disappointed or relieved.
Laura Creedle lives in Austin, TX, and writes about her experiences as an ADHD writer at www.lauracreedle.com. The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily is her debut novel.
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