“Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “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 arch-nemesis. 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.”
-Synopsis from Goodreads
I first heard about Jenn Bennett last summer when Serious Moonlight came out. What caught my eye about that particular book, and all her others were the covers. But the synopsis for each was also appealing to me, so I’ve kept her books on my TBR for a rainy day. Well, I decided to treat myself to Alex, Approximately a few weeks ago, which I mentioned in my latest Recent Additions to My Bookshelf post.
Can I just gush about that cover for a second? I am so attracted to it and I don’t know why – I don’t care for the color yellow and never have, but this cover is so lovely I just can’t stop staring at it! The scene pictured is so relaxing. Have you ever watched a movie in the water like that? I have, eons ago, so I could practically feel myself settling into that comfortable position in the water. Okay, enough of that. But whoever designed these covers is phenomenal – all of Bennett’s book covers are just flawless in my opinion.
Now for the book itself. It’s been a hot minute since I have read a real honest-to-goodness teen book. They were my jam last year when I was taking a course in young adult and children’s literature. I wanted to reconnect with that genre of books, so here we are!
Alex, Approximately absolutely blew me away. There was not one thing I didn’t like about this book! As that is the case, I’m just going to make a bullet pointed list of what I loved…
- Setting. Anything in California always, always makes me happy. It’s the place I’ve been the most, other than Arizona, and I’m always able to picture everything perfectly. Add a small beachy town onto that? Yes please!
- Characters. In particular, Bailey, Bailey’s dad and Bailey and her dad together. They were just so effortless, I don’t really know how to describe it. There was no “getting to know you” part of the book, it was just, here they are and I already feel like I know them. I loved their relationship and in particular their conversations.
- Minor Characters. Grace, Porter (although he wasn’t really a minor character), Officer Mendoza, the Roth family…each of these minor characters felt like a main character, and they were such a lovely group of people for Bailey to be surrounded by. They cared so much about her, without even knowing her backstory, and that allowed her to actually open up for once and show her true self.
- The Cave. I really need to see this place in person! Although the Cave isn’t real, it was the perfect backdrop as Bailey’s summer job. It just sounded like the coolest place! I also loved when Porter took Bailey to the “real” museum on their day off, which set my heart aflutter as a fellow museum and archive lover myself!
- The Anticipation. Halfway through the book, just like Bailey, I totally forgot about Alex. But there was still that nagging in the back of my mind as to what was going to happen if or when Porter found out about Bailey’s real intent to find Alex this summer. It made for a suspenseful second half of the book as this part of the plot came back into the spotlight.
This was an extremely enjoyable read. It is well-written, and just downright cozy. I can’t quite explain how it was “cozy” but just trust me on it! I looked forward to curling up with this book every single night and going back into Bailey’s world at Coronado Cove as she was riding her Vespa around town, going to work at the Cave and seeing Porter, having her standing breakfasts with Grace, watching the surfers with the Roth family. Talk about a vibe after my own heart!
Alex, Approximately is it the book I wish I had when I was a teen. While I was reading, I couldn’t help but compare it to another teen series I read earlier this year, one that I had high hopes for but it didn’t quite live up to the expectations. I think it’s safe to say that Jenn Bennett’s books are more my style. You already know what I’m going to say next, right? I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an outstanding read.
Goodreads rating: Five stars.