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.
I took one look at the blurb and I was sold- a teenage retelling of You’ve Got Mail, with the teens being classic movie buffs who live in a Central Californian coastal town. And the verdict? Approximately amazing!
Alex, Approximately is not my first go around with talented author, Jenn Bennett. It is, however, my first time reading her YA work. I discovered her from her paranormal Roaring Twenties trilogy.
This story ticked off a lot of boxes with me that had me loving it early on. I struggle to connect with YA fiction these days, but I spotted this one and had hopes that with it being a retelling of a favorite movie, classic movie references, and the coastal setting not far from where my family is from that any teen issues would be voided out. Truthfully, it wasn’t far into the story when I was already full of interest and curiosity for both Bailey ‘Mink’ Rydell and Porter ‘Alex’ Roth’s situations. There are hints that something traumatic happened to Bailey- and not just her parents’ divorce- earlier that causes her to have issues so that she struggles with normal life. She copes by going into ‘stealth’ mode whenever she can and staying out of the limelight or even mild confrontations. Porter is living a different sort of lie and the effort is eating him up inside. He might be the bane of Bailey’s existence at first, but he is the catalyst to get her to open up.
Anyone familiar with the plot for You’ve Got Mail can likely guess just how big the reveal hit when ‘Mink’ and ‘Alex’ discovered the truth about who their on-line movie buff friend is in real life. I was expecting to wince over angst and drawn out drama, but I should have trusted the author. It was about right for the circumstances and the characters.
On a side note, there is a razzle-dazzle factor that just was there. This was cute, heartwarming, and even passionate, but there is just that bit of something extra. I felt it most when they were just friends and being real with each other and when Bailey and her dad were reconnecting.
And speaking of her dad, I’m adding a second side note that I like how the parents/adults were portrayed.
As to the narrative voice, this was my first time with Amy Melissa Bentley. She matched up very well with all the voices, but particularly Bailey’s voice. She conveyed a teen world well and the deeper emotions and developed characters in Alex, Approximately.
So, yes, this was definitely a blockbuster hit for me. Probably best for an older teen to adult audience due to the content. Classic movie buffs will sigh with pleasure and those on the scout for a solid YA Coming of Age story will definitely want to take a peek.
My thanks to Tantor for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.
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