Review: A Taxonomy of Love, Rachael Allen

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 Iโ€™m all in.



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 Spencerโ€™s narrative POV as well as Hopeโ€™s text messages and letters to her sister Janie. I really enjoyed that narration and had fun following the story and seeing them grow.



โ€œMaybe it’s about finding the other people who don’t fit, the same way you don’t fit.โ€

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 ; Hopeโ€™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 Touretteโ€™s syndrome, yet it doesnโ€™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 canโ€™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 Touretteโ€™s was part of the story like it was part of Spencerโ€™s character, it did not define him and I loved that.

โ€œI always want to be on the side of people who choose kindness over hate.โ€

Hope wasโ€ฆ well, quite something. She unfortunately kind of suffered from the manic-pixie-dream-girl trope at times and I couldnโ€™t quite get through to her and, like I said before, that was something missing from this book.



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 youโ€™re looking for a sweet young adult contemporary story with best friends and realistic characters, Iโ€™d definitely recommend this heartwarming and beautiful surprise of a book.

Final rating:ย  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, ย Published by Amulet Books, January 9th, 2018.


The moment Spencer meets Hope the summer before seventh grade, itโ€™s . . . something at first sight. He knows sheโ€™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 โ€œfriendโ€ 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 doesnโ€™t always fit into easy-to-manage boxes, and itโ€™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!

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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. ๐Ÿ“š |๐ŸŒ | ๐Ÿ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

47 thoughts on “Review: A Taxonomy of Love, Rachael Allen

  1. Oh, I’m so glad to fins someone else who has read this! I read it a while ago, and had mixed feelings much like you. There were so many parts I absolutely ADORED, but I felt this distance that kept me from fully loving this book.

    Most recently, Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett is a book about the evolution of a friendship and I absolutely loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yay I’m so glad you read and enjoyed it as well! Yes, it was a bit confusing – overall I really had a fantastic time reading it, but I was a bit frustrated by this distance I felt with Hope’s character. I wish we got more of her POV, I think ๐Ÿ™‚

      OHhh that’s SO great! I have Starry Eyes on my TBR and I am SO impatient to read it, I’m happy you loved it! ๐Ÿ˜€

      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! โค โค


  2. i’m so happy you loved it!! i ADORE this book so much!! i felt the same about hope though – i didn’t have the same connection with her that i did with spencer, which was unfortunate because it’s not like there was really anything wrong with her as a character but i just didn’t like her much?? i also really LOVED how spencer had tourette’s but the author didn’t let that be the defining point of his character. great review and happy you read it ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh I’m so happy you felt the same way about this book! ๐Ÿ˜€ It was such a great and hearwarming read and I loved Spencer SO much. I’m a bit sad about Hope, though, I wish we got to know her a bit better, maybe with more of her POV or something, to understand her better :/
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! โค โค

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that’s so great! I’m so happy you enjoyed this book just as well – it was such a sweet read. I can’t wait to read more from the author either ๐Ÿ˜€
      Thank you so much for stopping by! โค

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Dani! โค I'm glad to hear you felt the same way – I was a bit frustrated by that and would have loved to know Hope a bit better ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book before where the main character has Touretteโ€™s syndrome, and I think it’s great that we’re seeing that kind of diversity being included in the books but better that it wasn’t what represented the character, that it didn’t define them you know? As much as I love diversity being the forefront in stories it’s also nice to see a story that doesn’t revolve around it, that the characters are more than their diverse aspect you know?
    This sounds like a great book Marie, it’s a little bit of a shame you didn’t feel more connected to Hope’s character but I guess there’s only so much you can get from a person through texts, even in books. Still it seems like you really enjoyed this one which is great to see. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Great review as well. ๐Ÿ˜€ โค

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes that’s exactly it – it was so lovely to see that kind of diversity and especially lovely how well included it was in the story and not necessarily the biggest part of the story as a whole. We need more books like this one for sure ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thank you so, so much, Beth! โค โค โค

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t read this, but it looks fully excellent! I really like the dynamic in the edgy urban fantasy The Circle… the characters have known each other perpherally for ages but haven’t really become friends which is a sloooooow process, but it gives the book so much depth, you know? anyway this review was lovely โค

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes exactly, I love these kind of relationships that slowly develop over time, get complicated, when people move on, come back to each other, etc. It’s so compelling and fun to read/see ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thank you so, so much for your sweet comment, Shanti! I hope you’ll want to give this one a try someday ๐Ÿ˜€


  5. This sounds so cute, I’ve had this on my TBR when it first came out in US and then lost track of it because of so many other releases. But your review made me interested in it once again. I love cute romances that evolve through time, they are the cutest ๐Ÿ˜
    Lovely review as always! โค

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree, these kind of romances are the cutest ones! I’m so glad I could remind you of this book, I hope you’ll read it, I would love to hear what you think of it ๐Ÿ˜€
      Thank you so much! โค โค


  6. Yesss! I loved this one so so much too! I was a bit nervous when it started getting really into wrestling because I HATE sports.๐Ÿ˜‚But otherwise, it was so cute?! And I haven’t read a lot of books where it was set over such a long period of time…sO I definitely enjoyed that. And I LOVED that it had respectful and great disability rep. ๐Ÿ’›

    Also some other great childhood friendship stories (turned romance ajdkflsad) that I like are definitely Starfish and The Wicker King!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I get that, I wouldn’t have been as into it if it really focused on wrestling more, that was enough ๐Ÿ˜‚ I am so happy you enjoyed this book as well, it was such a great read! โค โค

      Oh thank you so much for these – I have both on my TBR and I already bought Starfish, I am SO impatient to read it!! ๐Ÿ˜€ โค


  7. It’s such a shame that you didn’t get to know Hope as well as Spencer, but I definitely get why Marie! Things like letters are very different – they can be very personal and insightful of course, but if they’re actually sent to someone else they could lie, hold things back etc. whereas if you’re actually in a character’s head it’s less likely that that will happen (unless they’re an unreliable narrator of course :P) Glad to hear you still enjoyed this though! It definitely sounds like an interesting read ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes exactly – and there was a big part of the book where we didn’t get Hope’s POV at all, something that made me a bit frustrated, too. Anyway, still it was a lovely book and I still really loved the main character ๐Ÿ˜€ โค
      Thank you so much, Michelle! โค

      Liked by 1 person

  8. YAY! I’m so glad you loved this one, loved you’re review! I have a copy of this book and I can’t wait to read it! I love YA Contemporary books with all my heart and after reading your review I thin I’m going to like it!๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ™Œ

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ahh I love that it’s set over 6 years! THAT’S SO COOL. I’ve heard of this, but I’ve never been interested in it?! After reading your (fabulous) review, I really want to read it now! *_* I’m a sucker for a cute YA contemporary. โค

    Liked by 1 person

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