Book Review: A Taxonomy of Love
By: Rachael Allen
Published By: Amulet Books
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
Page Count: 336
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Young Adult - Contemporary
Spencer has always found comfort in scientific facts. He keeps his mind occupied in stressful moments by creating taxonomies in his head. Between the taxonomies, a detailed knowledge of insects, and Tourettes Syndrome, Spencer constantly feels on the edge of everything. It doesn't help that his older brother, Dean, is a golden boy. Everything in Spencer's universe shifts the day Hope moves in next door. From the first moment he lays eyes on her, Spencer knows that Hope owns his heart, but he doubts she will ever return his affection.
The novel begins when Spencer and Hope are in middle school and showcases their friendship. I'm a firm believer that the best romances begin with friends, so I was rooting for these two from the opening chapters. Life has an odd way of turning things upside down though so Spencer and Hope will have to navigate some rocky currents as they age. High school comes with its own set of problems, tragedies, and broken hearts, but in the end Spencer and Hope find a way to remain friends.
In addition, to the friendship and romantic angst, I was fascinated by how Spencer handles his Tourettes Syndrome. I've never known anyone with the disorder and its not something I have a ton of knowledge about, so I was intrigued to see the world through Spencer's eyes. Being a teenager is hard enough, but having something that sets you apart in the eyes of others adds a layer to Spencer that makes him stand out as a main character. People often made fun of him or treated him differently because of the disorder, but as the novel progresses, Spencer comes to terms with who he is and learns how to cope when others don't get it.
The emphasis on family is another theme that permeates this read. I loved the sibling interaction between Spencer and Dean as well as the moments between Hope and her older sister, Janie. Overall, Spencer's entire family won me over as well. Mimi, in particular, has a special place in my heart.
If you're looking for a contemporary read with a southern setting that features a unique main character, I'd suggest picking this one up. Prepare yourself for a rollercoaster of emotions though. I cried and laughed in equal measure as I rooted for Spencer to get his happy ending.
One Last Gripe: There were moments when I had trouble liking Hope. I felt like she intentionally hurt Spencer at times.
Favorite Thing About The Book: Spencer's family
First Sentence: Two important things happened the summer I turned thirteen.
Favorite Character: Spencer
Least Favorite Character: Bella
The moment Spencer meets Hope the summer before seventh grade, it’s . . . something at first sight. He knows she’s special, possibly even magical. The pair become fast friends, climbing trees and planning world travels. After years of being outshone by his older brother and teased because of his Tourette syndrome, Spencer finally feels like he belongs. But as Hope and Spencer get older and life gets messier, the clear label of “friend” gets messier, too.
Through sibling feuds and family tragedies, new relationships and broken hearts, the two grow together and apart, and Spencer, an aspiring scientist, tries to map it all out using his trusty system of taxonomy. He wants to identify and classify their relationship, but in the end, he finds that life doesn’t always fit into easy-to-manage boxes, and it’s this messy complexity that makes life so rich and beautiful.