‘By The Book’ by Amanda Sellet

By The Book by Amanda Sellet is a coming of age story involving a young girl who goes from a private school to public high school and must navigate the culture that is high school while trying to make new friends. Her passion for the classics gets the attention of a group of friends who quickly adopt her as the newest member. Together they put together the Scoundrels Survival Guide, a guide for fellow teenagers to follow when looking for the ideal relationship partner. Each of the types on the list comes from various classical novels they’ve read from Emma to Moby Dick. But what if their list is wrong? That’s where the fun comes in.

What I like?

I liked how the author saw fit to put each of the references to the novels in the back of the book for the reader to understand where it came from. I also like how the main character is relatable. All Mary knows are her books and the characters within them. It’s only natural she would compare them to the people in her life and draw conclusions about their character or personality. Unfortunatly, this comes to bite her in the butt later on.

There are also some LGBTQ characters, and while they don’t take center stage, it’s still nice to see the diversity included.

What I don’t like?

Reading the story felt like it was as long as the book really is. I didn’t feel swept up in the story until the last few chapters when it all goes to hell in a handbasket. I like stories that drag me in and don’t let go. This one was more of a casual read that takes its time in getting to the good parts.

Who is this book for?

I’d say this book is easily a young adult romance, but it’s a very slow burning romance. Definetly not an “in your face” romance where every other page is dripping with make out scenes (there’s really only one kissing scene in this book). If you enjoy the classics and want to see a few teenagers use them to navigate life, this could also be the read for you. It might be fun to see how many references you can get without looking at the back of the book.

Overall

By The Book is a slow burning happily ever after read. I like it because it’s not obvious how it’s going to end and who ends up with who. It takes it’s time to get you really guessing just how everything will play out.

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