A Taxonomy of Love by Rachael Allen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is adorable! I don't usually like contemporary teen books but am so glad that every now and again I am reminded of why I read them.
I don't know how close to being a teenager Rachael Allen is at the time of writing this; but it feels genuine. The narrative, dialogue, taxonomy and journal entries all really worked well together giving this diverse book unique diverse ways to tell it's story!
This book focuses on two teens: our main narrative, a boy with Tourette's syndrome; and a girl who (early on) loses an important person to her. Both are well done but certainly our lead guy is the primary character for this story. As with many neuro disorders it is hard to hide the external signs. I have overactive nerves and constantly have people ask me if I'm okay because my legs are twitching or vibrating. There is nothing I can do about it, and like our lead guy, thinking about not doing it only makes the sensation and compulsion worse.
Allen clearly did her homework when it comes to the embarrassment and awkwardness that comes with Tourette's and I commend her for making her lead boy someone completely average that happens to have a neuro disease. Additionally she deserves HUGE props for talking about medication, it's side effects and the continuing struggle to balance medication, side effects and life. I struggle with this on an almost daily basis myself for both my nerve disorder pain and my anxiety. It's refreshing to see an author include medication conversations and considerations as part of the normal everyday life of someone with a neuro disorder or disease.
All the feelings
Like many contemporary teen books, The Taxonomy of Love, takes it's reader on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. There are no moments where I felt the emotion or events were cheap, unrealistic or overplayed. It was like Allen had been in the minds of each teen she wrote about and understood how they would have reacted and felt. It's impressive to write teenagers so well and without it coming across as drama for the sake of drama.
Be prepared as there are tear jerker events, heartbreak, disappointment, etc. As well as bullying, first time having sex, suicidal thoughts, and other moments that may be difficult to handle. But amongst all those events and feelings are ones of trust, love and survival. If nothing else I would say Allen is telling a story of teenagers who survived being a teenager. While I am 20 years away from having been a teenager, I still remain glad that I survived that stage of life. And survival seems the right word for what most of us experience as a teen. I think this book will help teenagers feel a little more normal and (maybe) gain some perspective into their own confused and overpowering feelings.
I really enjoyed this quick read. The taxonomy is cute; however I would have liked a bit of a lesson on taxonomy. While I personally know what it is, I believe there are many teens and adults that wouldn't. So I take one star away because the one thing Allen fails at is educating the reader on what taxonomy is and why it is used. A little ironic given the extensive use of taxonomy and it's use on the cover of the book. While I want books to be fun and enjoyable; I do like learning things as well. This seems like an easy teaching opportunity that was missed.
I would highly recommend this for boys or girls that are over 13. There is one scene in which it's a little nerve wracking as a character has a suicidal moment. It's brief and not focused on (I can't spoil why, but I promise it makes sense); however, it could be traumatizing for a pre-teen to read.
That said it's a quick read so if you want to read it in advance before giving it to a teen I don't think even adults would be disappointed.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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