I’m so glad we live in a world where there are so many popular young adult books about mental health/disorders but, dare I say it, it’s becoming difficult to find those with a unique voice. Holly Bourne smashed it with Am I Normal Yet, Sophie Kinsella’s Finding Audrey was a great foray into the young adult genre and John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down was hard-hitting to say the least. Now it’s Rachael Allen’s turn, with a topic I’ve not yet uncovered in my reading experience: Tourette syndrome.
A Taxonomy of Love* starts the summer before Spencer starts seventh grade – the summer he meets Hope. And his new neighbour’s name is rather apt. Spencer lives in the shadow of his popular older brother and is constantly teased because of his Tourette syndrome. Hope quickly becomes his person. His best friend. His confidante. His safe place. She gives him hope that he could have a ‘normal’ life. But, as with that classic boy-girl friendship Dawson and Joey, the boundaries become increasingly blurred as they battle growing pains, broken hearts and family tragedies.
More serious topics are handled in an informative and non-preachy way and I stand by my theory that you’re never too old for young adult books. A Taxonomy of Love is so much more than the sum of its parts. Yes, there are the typical young adult tropes – high school, family problems, bullying, a will-they-won’t-they storyline, the underdog, the super-nerd, etc – but it is a truly endearing, albeit slightly predictable, story.
I love it when a writer really allows you to understand what’s going on inside their characters’ minds. It takes so much more than just a first-person narrative. Spencer is a budding scientist and uses taxonomies to make sense of the world. These are scattered throughout the novel and it really helps to convey what he’s thinking on a different level. Plus they’re fun as hell.
What’s especially interesting is that the author is a scientist and a fan of taxonomies herself. Check out some examples on her blog. I love the one on young adult characters – she’s so freaking meta.
A Taxonomy of Love is released today. Buy it here.
*I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes but all thoughts are my own
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