Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: April 4th, 2017
In this delightfully charming teen spin on You’ve Got Mail, the one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.
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.
My thoughts:"Teen spin on You've Got Mail" were the only words I needed to get extremely excited about Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett and the fact that I loved her previous YA novel The Anatomical Shape of a Heart added to my excitement.
Bailey, also known by her nickname Mink, has been chatting online with a fellow film geek called "Alex" for a good few months. Despite the fact that she does not really know that much about "Alex", she feels like he could be someone she could really connect with, not only online but in "real life".
Bailey knows where "Alex" lives, though, and when she moves from the East Coast to California to live with her father, she is not quite sure how to tell "Alex" that she is now a resident of the same town that he comes from. Rather than speaking up and telling the truth, Bailey decides to put all the info that she has about "Alex" together in an attempt to figure out his identity.
The move to California comes with a lot of changes, with one of them being a new summer job at a museum called The Cavern Palace. While the job comes with perks, like making a new friend called Grace, Bailey is struggling to find a way to deal with her annoying co-worker Porter. Sure, Porter is extremely attractive and charming but it also seems like he is determined to make Bailey's life difficult.
Despite her annoyance with Porter, Bailey feels a pull towards him. As the two spend more time together, Bailey realizes that Porter is much more than a handsome, slightly cocky surfer, and as she learns more about him, she starts to ignore "Alex" in order to spend more time with Porter. It also seems like "Alex" is not that interested no longer, which makes Bailey wonder what happened between the two.
If you have seen You've Got Mail, the basics of this story won't be a surprise to you, and basically, the synopsis itself tells you that Porter is actually Alex. Despite the fact that you know this major plot point from the first page onwards, this book is full of wonderful surprises. And reading through how they find out each other's identities is one the best parts of this novel.
Bailey is such a great main character. While reading this novel, I had written down to my notes that she is "realistically and wonderfully flawed." What I mean by this is that she feels extremely real. She is young and inexperienced in many ways, and while she does mistakes, those mistakes teach her something and she grows through them. I loved reading about her reactions to kind of feelings she has not felt before because I felt like the way Bennett writes about first crushes and perhaps even first love felt extremely realistic and touching.
I liked Porter as a character too, though there is a part to him that I wasn't so sure about -- since I don't want to spoil the novel for you, I will let you make your own conclusions about what I mean (if you read this novel, you probably will figure it out since this side of him is something Bailey worries about too). While at first I was kind of scared that he would be some California surfer cliche, I was pleased to notice that he is much more than he seems.
The chemistry between Bailey and Porter is written very well, and at many points I was able to feel the kind of tension and chemistry between them that is present between the characters in You've Got Mail. If you are a fan of swoon-worthy novels, you definitely need to check this one out!
I am always a big fan of realistic, well-written daughter-father relationships and I loved the way Bennett writes about the interaction between Bailey and her father. The relationship is based on mutual trust, and while they might not see eye to eye on everything, Bennett is able to create a feeling of love between the two.
One thing I must mention before I finish this review is how awesomely sex positive this novel is. I know some readers might not be fans of this aspect of the novel, but I absolutely loved seeing positive, realistic portrayal of female masturbation and the kind of sexual awakening that Bailey goes through. There are no super explicit scenes involving sex, BUT even mentioning something like female masturbation is something you don't see very often in young adult novels.
All in all, Alex, Approximately is a brilliant, entertaining young adult novel that I found extremely hard time to put down once I started it.