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.
Rachael Allen is the author of 17 First Kisses and The Revenge Playbook. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, two children, and two sled dogs. Visit Allen at rachaelallenwrites.blogspot.com.
A Taxonomy of Love 4 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
I sensitivity read A TAXONOMY OF LOVE prior to its publication date and loved it to pieces, but the story's final version is even better than the draft I saw. The secondary characters are vivid and three-dimensional and resist typecasting at every turn. (I'm especially fond of Spencer's big brother Dean, a jock who's not dumb and who's oddly supportive of Spencer when he's not pushing him around.) The evolving relationship between Spencer and his ambitious, outdoorsy BFF Hope swings believably from friends, to best friends, to maybe something more without ever falling into predictable territory, and will give you all kinds of feelings. Plus, an important facet of their friendship involves Spencer learning to see Hope as a whole person and not just the girl of his dreams, which I'm all in favor of. There's also sports drama and high school drama, a pair of amazing, supportive families and more than one mouthwatering description of southern food.
This is THE Tourette's Syndrome narrative that I wish I'd had in high school, where having tics doesn't prevent the protagonist from making friends or participating in sports or finding love, where conversations about medication and coping mechanisms and how to talk to people who don't understand what TS is like play out on the page in a variety of different ways. I'm incredibly hopeful that readers who have Tourette's themselves will find this book, and that readers who don't have Tourette's won't be turned off by it. Spencer's struggles to fit in and make friends and feel comfortable with himself are relatable to everyone, neurotypical or otherwise.
Basically, if you like sweet, romantic, funny contemporary YA with a lot of hidden depth, you need to check out A TAXONOMY OF LOVE.
More than 1 year ago
A HUGE YES FOR #DiverseBooks with GREAT MENTAL HEALTH REP, because we need that SO SO MUCH. These diverse books that show me the world from the eyes of someone diagnosed with any kind of mental illness is enlightening because it helps putting myself in someone else’s shoes, understand whatever little I can and be a kind person to everyone out there.
Books about mental health have taught me more that I can say, and when I read that this book was about Tourette’s syndrome, a mental illness I know almost nothing about, I knew I HAD to read it.
A huge thank you to Abrams & Chronicle Books for sending me an ARC of this beautiful book and I HAVE SO MANY THOUGHTS:
1. A Taxonomy of Love was a hilarious, brilliant, diverse book that was also a coming of age love story between neighbours and best friends and it was EVERYTHING.
2. I loved how Tourette’s was explained from Spencer’s point of view. It was such an important part of the book, looking at his disease from his own point of view as he and people around him came to terms with it and AT THE SAME TIME, I love that the disease wasn’t all there was to the plot or to Spencer. This book was about a teenage boy with Tourette’s and both sides of the equation were balanced PERFECTLY.
3. The taxonomies in this book were some of the CUTEST things I’ve ever seen. From the one about who merits a second look in high school to the Greatest Villains of All Time, I loved each and every single one of them.
4. A Taxonomy of Love is mostly told from Spencer’s point of view but has the occasional switch to Spencer’s neighbour, Hope’s point of view. These switched are told through letters, diary entries and texts to Hope’s older sister, Janie.
5. Which brings me to how I’M STILL NOT SURE HOW I FELT ABOUT HOPE. She was hurting and broken but she also wasn’t a very good friend to Spencer. She also had the Manic Pixie Dream Girl vibe going which is one of my least favourite tropes in literature and while I fell for Spencer FAST, I struggled to connect with Hope.
6. This book is told over the course of six years – thirteen to nineteen, also known as the precarious teens, and I loved seeing how every single person grew, changed and matured over those six years.
A Taxonomy of Love is a brilliant, touchingly funny coming of age love story about a boy with Tourette’s learning to live and love.
More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***
A Taxonomy of Love by Rachael Allen
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
I'd heard great things about this book, and while I'm not a YA contemporary fan (definitely not a tough-issue contemporary person), I was curious enough to want to know more about it. This book broke my heart in many ways, but it was really and truly inspiring and hopeful. It wasn't an easy read but it was a meaningful one, and I'm glad I took a chance on it.
This book begins when Spencer is 13 years old, and his new neighbors are moving in. That is when he meets Hope. He likes Hope immediately; she is nice, fun, and she doesn't think he is a weirdo because of his Tourette Syndrome tics and sniffs. But his older brother Dean also thinks Hope is cool. As the years go on, Spencer and Hope are friends... Dean and Hope are a couple... and then they're not... Spencer and Jayla are a couple... Hope and Mikey are a couple... and so life goes. This book is a story of broken hearts and painful sibling relationships, or loss and life, and misunderstandings and lost time. It ends with Spencer being 19 years old, and thus closes the story after six years.
Most of the story is narrated by Spencer, though occasional chapters are letters from Hope to her older sister Janie, who travels to third-world countries to do humanitarian work (if I remember correctly). Spencer is a different kind of male protagonist, primarily because he has Tourette Syndrome (and you don't find a lot of YA books featuring characters with Tourette Syndrome - definitely not them being protagonists). Spencer is an intelligent, clever, logical kid who has his quirks and eccentricities but really is a good kid. He has the worst luck, falling for his best friend. His best friend Hope, who ends up dating his big brother Dean.
I have to say, I didn't always like Hope. She didn't seem to think things through, and she definitely wasn't a big fan of communication, from what I could see from her side of her friendship with Spencer. I didn't think she was good for Spencer at all, whether as a friend, or what he wanted (her as his girlfriend). I began to like her more as the story went on, but I was totally rooting for Spencer to not end up with her.
You can imagine how messy this book is.
Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
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