By the Book

HMH. May 2020. 384p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780358156611.
Gr 9 Up–Moving to a public high school from a small charter program for her sophomore year has complicated Mary Porter-Malcolm’s life in countless ways. On the first day, Mary’s best friend abandons her, a boy who knows her acts like she’s a stranger, and she is sure that she will spend the year in social exile. However, she is immediately embraced by a smart and supportive group of girls who find her love of classic literature to be wise and endearing. Based on the literary lessons provided by Mary’s extensive reading, the girls embark on a plan of self-improvement which includes avoiding boys on their list in the “Scoundrel Survival Guide.” The prime member of that group, Alex, continues to pop up in Mary’s daily sphere. She is certain he is trying to woo her more beautiful friend, Terry. But his taboo status is jeopardized when his true intentions are revealed. The main and secondary characters are authentic, witty, and compelling. The plot moves along at a readable pace, though readers may become doubtful of Mary’s prolonged naivety regarding the nature of her friendships. Readers without a love or familiarity with classic literature may find the numerous literary references heavy-handed at times, but those with even minimal curiosity will revel in the clever insight.
VERDICT A worthy addition to most romance shelves. Put in the hands of readers who love a smart and precocious cast of characters, reminiscent of Amy Heckerling’s film Clueless.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing