With my toes in the sand and my heart falling quickly in love with the characters and writing, I breezed through this book. Alex, Approximately, by Jenn Bennett is a warm, sunny read that has so much more depth than I expected. I absolutely can’t wait to reread the story, and those books that I instantly want to dive back into are the ones that I carry near and dear to my heart. Sometimes, I tend to be picky about romance stories, especially ones that I go into knowing nothing about, and this one surpassed my expectations.
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: The Basics
Alex, Approximately begins with online messages between two people who have never met, Mink and Alex online. They have become fast internet friends, and bond over their love of old movies and classic films. I was not expecting the writing to be as fluent, descriptive, and warm as it was.
In the summer, I reach for lighthearted but powerful reads. I want to fall into a story for a few hours and come out feeling refreshed and thoughtful about my life and the people around me. However, the author wove elements of depth and heavier content into the story as well, which made it much more serious of a read and more enjoyable in the long run.
Alex, Approximately: My Review
The book was adorable, to say the least. It made me smile, which shows the power of the words and characters and dialogue just leaping off the pages. I laughed out loud many times.
Main character and first person narrator Bailey Rydell has such a strong voice, and is relatable in many senses of the word. After finishing Alex, Approximately, I looked up some reviews because I always like to know what other people came away from the story with. Some people disliked Bailey because she makes mistakes. I found her to be realistic. Who hasn’t run away from the scary or unfamiliar? Who hasn’t been afraid to take a chance?
I absolutely adored the plot. Even more, I adored Porter as a character. His personality shines through the pages and I can vividly recall almost every scene from the story because of how strongly he was written.
The supporting characters in Alex, Approximately made the story come to life. Bailey’s dad was so quirky and lovable. Porter’s family was so complex and vivid. Even the various staff members of the museum flew off the page and into my heart.
As a character, Bailey was utterly refreshing. I loved that Bailey made mistakes. Even more, I loved that she apologized for her mistakes and learned from them in the long run.
Alex, Approximately: Bonus Points & Final Thoughts
The romance aspect of the story is swoon-worthy, to be honest. It’s precious and new and yet thoroughly heart-melting. If you can’t tell from my review, I am a little in love with the story and characters, and I now am looking forward to picking up Jenn Bennett’s other YA novel, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart.
I will probably add this book to the list of ones I read every summer. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the re-imagination of a common plot sequence. However, I didn’t really notice while I was reading, and it felt fresh as a concept.
Overall, the writing was really gorgeous, and the word choice was extraordinary throughout. I will always adore the surfer, golden, damaged, unique character that is Porter. Oh, and I adored the relationship between Bailey and her dad. While there’s tension and awkwardness, they trust and love each other through and through.
All in all, I really enjoyed this read. I couldn’t get enough of the slow building romance between Bailey and Porter. While I sometimes felt like the Alex-Mink messages were a little one dimensional, I understand the purpose. Vibrant dialogue contrasting versus flat virtual life created motion, contrast, choice.
Let me know if you’ve read Alex, Approximately or anything else by Jenn Bennett! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading!