Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet. 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.
Alex, Approximately is a sweet, quick read. The summer before senior year, Bailey moves to CA to live with her dad...and maybe meet the boy she's been talking to online for a while about movies. Instead she gets a job, makes friends with an awesome girl, and finds herself in a hate-to-something-else relationship with the broody surfer boy she works with. The romance in this story is so adorable, even if it's predictable. It's also sex positive. The characters talk about birth control and masturbation, and are open and direct about their desires. It was refreshing to read (also kind of steamy?). But more than anything, I loved watching Bailey grow and mature. She has to learn to open up, to let people in, and to be a good friend. It isn't sudden, and it isn't 100%; it feels realistic. In addition to a strong female friendship, this book also features incredible parents! I'm so tired of parents who are absent (conveniently or otherwise) or just flat-out negligent. There are real parental relationships in this novel, you know, parents who are actually there and know what's going on in their kids' lives.
Should you read it? It isn't perfect - I found the beginning (and some of the end, for that matter) rather slow, and I think many readers will find parts of it predictable. But in the end, I think it's a strong, sweet story about friendship, family, personal growth and finding yourself in love.
Published April 4, 2017 by Simon Pulse