A Taxonomy of Love – Rachael Allen


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.


My Rating: 5 Stars

Have you ever bought a book because Bookstagram told you to? I have purchased SO MANY books because they were featured by someone on feed or story. This is, fortunately, one of them! One of my favorite accounts featured this ARC on her page and just gushed about how great it was. So, of course, I had to have it the minute it came out.

I am SO happy that I picked this one up, it may be one of my favorite contemporaries this year. I loved the main character Spencer so much. He was relatable and quirky and just such a good person. It was enlightening to learn about his Tourettes and his tics. The bug facts, while unexpected, were interesting and fun. I also really liked the Taxonomy charts that were drawn throughout the book. I just can’t say enough good things about Spencer, the man is the definition of a cinnamon roll. (To save you all some time, I’ve pasted the urban dictionary definition of cinnamon roll at the end of this review).

Another thing that I really enjoyed about the book was the way that the author gave us insight into Hope’s mind through her conversations and letters to her sister. Even though she wasn’t the main character, and didn’t get her own narrative per se, I was able to completely connect with her. I could feel her grief and frustration.

The best part of this book, for me, was watching the two of them grow up together. A Taxonomy of Love begins when Spencer and Hope are 13 years old, and ends when they are 19. The author did an incredible job of showing Spencer’s growth and development through his character’s narration. As the chapters progressed, and Spencer aged, I could feel the change in his thoughts, in his character. It was just so well done and kept me completely enthralled.

My Takeaway: This was such a wonderful book, filled with humor and grief, love and character growth. The main character, Spencer was both hilarious and relatable. I loved the focus on his Tourettes and the way that I as a reader got to grow with him. 

**Urban Dictionary definition of a cinnamon roll: A character that is very kind and sweet but faces more hardship and suffering than they truly deserve. Comes from the usage of an article headline from ‘The Onion’ titled ‘Beautiful Cinnamon Roll Too Good For This World, Too Pure.’ to describe a person or character that is very good but faces a lot of pain in their life.**

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