Summary: From the moment Spencer meets Hope the summer before seventh grade, he knows there’s something special about her. The two quickly become friends, sharing a love for climbing trees, planning adventures, and geeking out over science. Always being teased for his Tourette’s syndrome, Spencer starts to feel that he finally belongs somewhere. Over the years, through new relationships, family tragedy, and growing up, Spencer and Hope’s friendship is put to the test, as their relationship heads toward something more.
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
I received an ARC of A Taxonomy of Love at Book Con 2017 from Amulet Books, and I am so lucky to have this one before its release date (January 9th 2018) because I think A Taxonomy of Love is a standout for 2018 releases. A Taxonomy of Love reminded me of Jared Reck’s A Short History of the Girl Next Door and Julie Israel’s Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index, but the book is quite unique for having a protagonist with Tourette’s syndrome.
A Taxonomy of Love is primarily told through Spencer, which I found really refreshing for me because not only do I more so rarely read books told from a male POV, but also because we get to learn what it’s like for Spencer to have Tourette’s syndrome. Before reading A Taxonomy of Love, I didn’t know too much aboutTourette’s syndrome and I learned a lot more about the condition from the novel. A Taxonomy of Love isn’t just told from Spencer’s POV, as we get to experience Hope’s POV through instant messaging and letters to her sister, Janie, who’s traveling abroad. And as suggested through the title, there are plenty of taxonomies created by Spencer. They don’t necessarily depict his interests in science or bugs, but rather they display relationships, high school, and types of people in general. The book is spilt into 6 sections, which each section representing one year of Spencer’s life. I really enjoyed this because I felt that we got to see the characters change and grow up.
One of my favorite aspects of A Taxonomy of Love is our cast of characters. We obviously have Spencer and Hope, whose friendship takes some twists and turns throughout the years. There’s a ton of family in this book, between Spencer’s family—Dean, his dad, his stepmother, Pam, and his grandma, Mimi—and Hope’s family, with a lot of emphasis on her relationship with Janie. More of Spencer and Hoper’s friends came in and out of the novel as well, and I think this bigger cast really works, as we see all the people who played a role in the duo’s lives throughout the years.
There were so many fun quotes in A Taxonomy of Love that I had to break out my page tabs! I really enjoyed this gem from Spencer:
“Hope hates playing Magic. I had to trade her watching High School Musical and High School Musical 2 to get her to play last time. I can only handle so much Zac Efron.”
While the book has plenty of light moments, there are a lot of heavy and more serious topics addressed in the book. There’s a really great scene towards the end of the novel where Spencer’s family talks about racism, which was quite interesting considering that the story takes place in Georgia—it did a great job of de-stereotyping southern beliefs. Through Spencer’s POV, we obviously experience what it’s like for him to have Tourette’s, but we also see how he reacts to being teased for his condition. Additionally, one of the main themes in the novel is death, as one of the character’s in the novel experiences a death in their family. I admit that I didn’t read the blurb too much before reading A Taxonomy of Love, so some of its darker moments took me back a bit, but I felt that these themes made the story feel more realistic.
Overall, I really enjoyed A Taxonomy of Love for a taxonomy of reasons: its focus on family and friendship, its portrayal of growing up, and for featuring a main character with Tourette’s syndrome, which I haven’t seen before in the YA world. My only “complaint” about the book is that there were so many opportunities for our main characters to get together sooner (I complain about this in almost every book I read about “star-crossed” lovers so I was not surprised by my feeling).
Is A Taxonomy of Love on your TBR? Share in the comments!