FICTION

A Taxonomy of Love

336p. Abrams/Amulet. Jan. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781419725418.
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Gr 8 Up—Spencer has Tourette's syndrome, a perfect older brother he can't live up to, and a love of trying to understand the world by creating his own scientific taxonomies for everything and everyone around him. Then Hope moves in next door. This story takes readers from Spencer's seventh grade to his senior year of high school; the teens become best friends, fight, and their friendship changes into something more. They deal with tragedies, relationships, and growing up. This charming romance skims across time, often dipping only briefly into each year, yet it doesn't feel rushed or forced. While the romance is at the center of the novel, the other relationships and characters' growth are well developed. The multiple plotlines and character arcs lead to a delightful multifaceted novel. Further depth is added by using different formats of storytelling effectively, such as prose, emails, IM chats, and more. Tourette's syndrome is part of Spencer's life but its portrayal doesn't overwhelm the narrative. Instead, the chronic illness is handled with sympathy and empowerment. The sexual content, which occurs primarily through discussions of teens having sex and a description of arousal from a teenager's perspective, isn't gratuitous and is handled in an age-appropriate manner.
VERDICT A multilayered and charming novel that blends humor, romance, tragedy, and other universal coming-of-age themes; a strong choice for most collections.

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