- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Simon Pulse; First Edition edition (April 4, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 148147877X
- ISBN-13: 978-1481478779
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 119 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Alex, Approximately Hardcover – April 4, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Bennett's updated homage to You've Got Mail starts with two teens bonding online over their love of classic films. But will they be simpatico in real life? Bailey Rydell, aka "Mink," is a self-described "habitual evader" and an "artful dodger" who lives far away from her online friend "Alex." When Bailey moves across the country to the California town where Alex lives, she worries that "meeting real-life Alex could be great, but it could be one big awkward disappointment." Nonetheless, she begins a methodical search for her friend in the small town of Coronado Cove, but little does she know, a curveball is coming her way. Bennett has skillfully created a modern teen romance with a retro-cool vibe. Nods to Roman Holiday, North by Northwest, and other films appear throughout the novel, and quotes from iconic classic movies frame each chapter. The contrast of a sexy surfer love interest with Bailey's Lana Turner—inspired persona effectively creates tension. Adrenaline-fueled chase scenes, misunderstandings, complicated tragic backstories, and missed opportunities drive the narrative forward. Bennett's charming protagonist is equal parts introverted fashionista and vulnerable yet resilient heroine. There are a few mature references to sex, drugs, and drinking. Steamy romantic scenes capture the anticipation of young love and are carefully crafted to build to the inevitable and satisfying conclusion. VERDICT This contemporary romance is recommended for film buffs who appreciate witty repartee and a touch of the nostalgic. A strong addition to romance collections.—Eva Thaler-Sroussi, Glencoe Public Library, IL
"Uncommonly nuanced." (★Booklist, starred review)
"An irresistible tribute to classic screwball-comedy romances that captures the 'delicious whirling, twirling, buzzing' of falling in love." (★Kirkus, starred review)
"A strong addition to romance collections." (School Library Journal)
"Sympathetic characters and plenty of drama." (Publishers Weekly)
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Bailey Rydell doesn’t do direct. She isn’t called the Artful Dodger for nothing. So when she decides to move across the country to live with her dad in California, she can’t quite get around to telling Alex, her online friend-but-maybe-more.
It doesn’t matter that Alex lives in the same town as her dad. Or that he wants her to come out and meet him. She just isn’t willing to take that big of a risk on someone whose real name she isn’t even sure she knows.
But if she can find out who he is without him knowing about her, and he’s everything she thought he was and hoped he would be, then maybe she’ll be willing to take a chance and reveal her identity. She just needs to find him.
Which turns out to be not quite as easy as she thought it would be, given what she already knows about Alex. Although the very distracting, maddening, gorgeous, Porter Roth might be to blame for her lack of progress. And for her waning interest in finding Alex at all.
Jenn Bennett makes it so easy to fall in love with her novel. From the writing that immediately draws you into the story and keeps you engaged and invested throughout. To the characters you can’t help but adore. To the wildly entertaining interactions between Bailey and Porter. To the lighter moments that include a case of mistaken identity, a museum heist, an embarrassing family tradition, an unhealthy love affair with churros. To the serious moments that include heartache, the end of a friendship, family tragedies, loss. And to the notable film quotes at the beginning of each chapter that hint at what is to come.
ALEX, APPROXIMATELY is an enchanting and enduring story, told from Bailey’s point of view and through her messaging with Alex, that spans the course of a summer with just a glimpse beyond. It offers substance and depth coupled with romance and humor. It has an easy flow that will make the pages fly. It is an insanely good read that is a definite must.
I loved that even though this contemporary focuses on Bailey falling in love for the first time, it also gave the protagonist an important character arc that revolved around her alone. A traumatic past experience has caused Bailey to retreat into herself and as a result, she isn’t always good at forming new relationships. She’s used to compartmentalizing and this tendency to keep parts of her life separate makes it hard for her to open up to new people. Her online relationship with Alex that mostly revolves around their love of old Hollywood classics is only one facet to who she is and although I would have like to have seen more of this relationship, I think it was important to give Bailey’s real life relationship with Porter more of the spotlight. It is through this relationship that Bailey is forced to confront her propensity to bail when things get tough and though it’s a slow process, she does end up understanding that running away is the worst possible way to deal with her problems.
Porter was a really sweet love interest for Bailey. At first he does come across as a real jerk and though I don’t think this was really necessary, it thankfully doesn’t last long because it would have been really hard to root for this relationship if Porter had continually antagonized Bailey. I appreciated that Bailey wasn’t the only one hesitant about their relationship. Porter’s last serious relationship didn’t end well. These trust issues made him more relatable when he could have very easily been a cliché love interest. Several of his interpersonal relationships play vital roles in the story which gave him added depth.
The book does have some shortcomings. If you read the synopsis, the main plot twist isn’t meant to be concealed from the reader. I went into the novel knowing important information the characters didn’t. I thought the author would play with the idea of mistaken identity more, so was kind of disappointed that the identity of Bailey’s online friend really wasn’t much of a factor until the very end of the book. I also found it really hard to wrap my brain around Bailey’s mom’s complete absence. There is absolutely no contact between the two of them during the entire duration of the novel and although we’ve given a semi-convincing reason as to why at the end, I still found it hard to believe. I feel that this relationship was a missed opportunity. Part of the reason behind Bailey’s attitude toward conflict stems from what she’s learned from her mother, so it would have been interesting to actually explore this relationship rather than be told about it.
Bennett does a wonderful job of capturing those new, exciting feelings that come with your first serious relationship. I also appreciated that the author allows her characters to make mistakes and learn from these experiences. If you’re looking for a summer read that will have you swooning and agonizing over the ending Alex, Approximately is the one for you.
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