By the Book

In this clever YA rom-com debut perfect for fans of Kasie West and Ashley Poston, a teen obsessed with nineteenth-century literature tries to cull advice on life and love from her favorite classic heroines to disastrous results—especially when she falls for the school’s resident Lothario.

Mary Porter-Malcolm has prepared for high school in the one way she knows how: an extensive review of classic literature to help navigate the friendships, romantic liaisons, and overall drama she has come to expect from such an “esteemed” institution. When some new friends seem in danger of falling for the same tricks employed since the days of Austen and Tolstoy, Mary swoops in to create the Scoundrel Survival Guide, using archetypes of literature’s debonair bad boys to signal red flags. But despite her best efforts, she soon finds herself unable to listen to her own good advice and falling for a supposed cad—the same one she warned her friends away from. Without a convenient rain-swept moor to flee to, Mary is forced to admit that real life doesn’t follow the same rules as fiction and that if she wants a happy ending, she’s going to have to write it herself. 


“In this refreshing first novel, Sellet manages the large cast of characters well, while portraying the protagonist’s big family, her small circle of friends, and her first romance with considerable wit and insight. As Mary struggles with the practical and emotional troubles arising from her many mistakes, her rueful, self-deprecating narrative is sometimes impossible to read without laughing out loud. A smart, engaging romance.”

Booklist, Starred Review

“Debut author [Amanda] Sellet delightfully portrays Mary's large, chaotic family [...] A sweet story with a focus on family and friendships.”


“The main and secondary characters are authentic, witty, and compelling [...] Put in the hands of readers who love a smart and precocious cast of characters, reminiscent of Amy Heckerling’s film Clueless.”

School Library Journal

“I loved every minute of this story, from the dollar-a-word vocabulary (Jejune! Forwent! Insouciance!) to Mary’s dramatic introduction to Nicholas Sparks. Amid the brief diary entries and opulent prose, Sellet manages to hide a clever and biting social commentary in Mary’s point of view. One doesn’t need intimate familiarity with the classics to enjoy BY THE BOOK, but the more you know, the more you’ll laugh. I, for one, cackled out loud!”


“[A] YA novel that celebrates young love and the love of books in equal measure.”


“Everyone, even non-classics lovers [should] pick up this book for the warm, happy, wholesome vibes.”

The Young Folks

“This fun, quirky romance story that is just as much about friendships as it was about the ultimate romance […] BY THE BOOK is a must read.”

Book Briefs