Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Published: April 4, 2017 by Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.
And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.
I’ve loved Jenn Bennett’s writing since I started reading Kindling the Moon. And I’ve really enjoyed the voice of her YA characters, especially Bailey. Bailey is sarcastic and witty and I found myself laughing at some of her thoughts. YA is not a genre I read a lot of anymore because the immaturity of many of the characters is just not something I can relate to or tolerate anymore. However, I’ve always liked that Jenn Bennett writes more mature teenagers, because you know what? Lots of teens are mature and witty, it’s not just an adult thing. The key here, is that Bennett might give us great YA banter but she also shows the youth and vulnerability of teenagers. Her characters might be all confident and self-assured while interacting with their peers but they’re still confronted with moments when they’re just a nervous 17 year old who has gotten in trouble with their parents.
I really liked Bailey throughout this book because I saw a lot of myself in her when I was that age. Bailey’s sarcasm and self-deprecating attitude kept the narrative interesting and funny. The Artful Dodger, as she calls herself, spends much of this book learning to be a better friend, to be more involved in life, and to not repress everything she’s feeling to avoid conflict. Bennett does an amazing job of showing Bailey’s growth over time and I really appreciated this.
At first I thought I would dislike Porter after he embarrasses Bailey about her shoes. However, he turns himself around and it becomes clear that Bailey and Porter like to argue and debate with each other. I found Porter to be a very interesting hero for a YA novel because he had all the necessary swoon-worthy qualities but he also had some good flaws. He’s almost overly cocky, a bit argumentative, and he often frustrates Bailey as much as he intrigues her. He’s also a bit of a hot-head and doesn’t always think everything through.
5 stars – loved it!