Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

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Bailey “Mink” Rydell has met the boy of her dreams. They share a love of films and talk all day – Alex is perfect. Well, apart from the fact that they’ve never actually met . . . and neither of them knows the other’s real name.
When Bailey moves to sunny California to live with her dad, who happens to live in the same town as Alex, she decides to track him down. But finding someone based on online conversations alone proves harder than Bailey thought, and with her irritating but charismatic (and potentially attractive?) colleague Porter Roth distracting her at every turn, will she ever get to meet the mysterious Alex?

I knew I would like this book. It has everything I look for in a good YA summer contemporary. I had no idea that I would absolutely heckin adore it. Okay, so I picked this one up yesterday and I finished it this morning…literally because I could. Not. Put. It. Down. This means I’m now forced to queue 2 reviews 2 days in a row – because I’m reading so much!

Okay so on to my actual thoughts of the book, which I don’t honestly know how to put into words simply because my mind is still in the crazy, beautiful and incredibly chaotic world of Bailey. I’m now going to go through every single thing I liked about this book (which let me warn you, is a lot)…so we may be here a while…

“He looks toward the ocean, dark purple with the last rays of light. “My mom says we’re all connected–people and plants and animals. We all know one another on the inside.”

Let’s start with Bailey. She made for such an awesome main character, although I have to say I didn’t like her right away. She seemed kind of…stuck up. Superior. But that soon fizzled out as we discovered more and more about the mystery of Bailey. Above all, I found Bailey real. She was a real teenager with real (a lot) of real struggles – and I found her voice perfect for the story. I loved a lot about Bailey, especially her love of film. It showed real depth of character and I felt really connected to her. She also suffered a lot with her nerves and even PTSD at some points, which I found very relatable. I’ve unfortunately suffered with anxiety in the past and panic attacks, and I found Bailey’s very real and well described. She was also funny, quick witted and sarcastic, which made for an entertaining read.

Alex, Approximately also has a great collection of side characters. Porter is the perfect love interest – someone the reader can grow to adore as Bailey does. He can be a little bit of an asshole at times but he is so sweet and loving that I didn’t care after a while. Grace makes a great best friend, and a great first best friend for Bailey. Bailey’s dad is honestly a lovely parent figure, and Wanda becomes one too. All of the other characters – the other security guard, Patrick and even Davy, built the book up to be something I loved. The characters all bounced off each other and aided each others paths, and I think that’s simply genius.

“It’s what’s on the outside that distracts. Our clothes, our words, our actions. Shark attacks. Gunshots. We spend our lives trying to find other people.”

There are so many other things I loved about this book that we may, quite honestly, be here all day. But I’m ploughing on, because I just need to write it all down.

So, I also adored the location! This book actually made me fall in love with California, and it’s suddenly so much higher on places I would love to visit. I also felt like the location worked really well with the romance – because without the vivid, real descriptions of the setting…the romance would have been to unreal. Too fairytale-ish. But nope, even though the beautiful romance is totally unrealistic in real life, the setting made it seem possible. It made anything seem possible.

There are also so many random things I adored about this book. The museum(s). The way random characters appreciate cars and scooters. The surfing. The lines from movies at the start of every chapter. The fact Grace is in a long distance relationship and *whoops* it SURVIVES THE SUMMER. Patrick and his boyfriend. The complete adoration Porter has for weather. The scenes on the lifts, on the front porch, in the *ahem* back of Porter’s van. I could literally list things all heckin day.

“Sometimes we get confused and turned around by the distractions.” He smiles at me. “But we didn’t.”

Before I go, let’s just talk about Alex for a moment. I’m not going to say much, but can I just mention I knew who he was from the moment Bailey started that job. But even that, I don’t really care about. Because even though I knew all along, I still found it the most amount of fun to watch play out in front of me.

Okay, so I loved a lot about this book. But the thing I adored most is how it all worked together. See, many books have awesome things. But the perfect book has all of these awesome things and makes them bounce of one another in such a way, us readers just fall head over heels for them.

Jenn Bennett, how I admire you right now. I can safely say that Alex, Approximately is possibly my favourite read of the year so far. And I just hope that somehow I have thrown enough love into this review that someone here picks up your books. You have stolen my heart with your beautiful words.

★★★★★

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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