There are no spoilers in this review.
You know me, I am a huge fan of sweet contemporaries. Throw a little childhood-friends-trope, cute, realistic teenage romance and family ties and I’m all in.
A RELATIONSHIP EVOLVING THROUGH TEENAGEHOOD
A Taxonomy of Love follows Spencer and Hope from age 13 to 19, as they grow up and become, from neighbors to friends, as life goes on and tragedy, new, old, renewed relationships and, well, everything messy life can bring, gets in the way. One thing that sold me right away in this book, was the way the story was told: I am a huge fan of stories where you get to follow the characters like these, as they grow and change. It was like little snapshots, moments of their lives narrated through Spencer’s narrative POV as well as Hope’s text messages and letters to her sister Janie. I really enjoyed that narration and had fun following the story and seeing them grow.
GREAT AND ENDEARING CHARACTERS TO FOLLOW
“Maybe it’s about finding the other people who don’t fit, the same way you don’t fit.”
The main characters in the story were both great, but not quite equally interesting, for me and that comes in big parts, because of the narration. While Spencer, the predominant POV in this story, was great to follow, endearing and I appreciated him so much ; Hope’s narration was, through texts, messages and letters, a little less personal, which allowed me to have some distance. I would have liked to get to know her as much as Spencer through the narration and this is something I missed, especially for the whole second half of the book.
I loved Spencer so, so much. He was such a sweet main character, endearing and I quickly grew attached to him. A bit naive at first, I found that he had stunning character-development in this story and I appreciated this so much. Moreover, our main character here has Tourette’s syndrome, yet it doesn’t define him or what he can, should and want to do. I appreciated the diversity and getting to know more about that, too, even if I can’t speak on the representation on a personal way. Spencer faces bullying, misunderstandings and ableism, attitude he gets both from his peers and sometimes even his own dad. If Tourette’s was part of the story like it was part of Spencer’s character, it did not define him and I loved that.
“I always want to be on the side of people who choose kindness over hate.”
Hope was… well, quite something. She unfortunately kind of suffered from the manic-pixie-dream-girl trope at times and I couldn’t quite get through to her and, like I said before, that was something missing from this book.
HEARTWARMING AND REALISTIC
Despite this, A Taxonomy of Love was still a wonderful, heartwarming story that made me smile and laugh more than once. Thing is: this book was not sunshines and rainbows. It was a bit frustrating at times, because there were obvious misunderstandings and moments like these, yet it was so much more realistic because of it. It was messy, it was changing, just like life happens and I loved that.
If you’re looking for a sweet young adult contemporary story with best friends and realistic characters, I’d definitely recommend this heartwarming and beautiful surprise of a book.
Final rating: 4 drops!
A million thanks to Amulet Books/Abrams Books UK for sending me a review copy of this book. This did not, in any way, influence my rating and review.
Trigger warnings: grief, bullying, ableism, mild sexual content.
Rachael Allen, A Taxonomy of Love, Published by Amulet Books, January 9th, 2018.
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.
Did you read A Taxonomy of Love? Do you want to?
Do you know other books with childhood friends? I love these, so if you have recommendations, please let me know in comments!