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Alex, Approximately Hardcover – April 4, 2017
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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"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)
About the Author
Jenn Bennett is an award-winning author of the Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series (KINDLING THE MOON), the Roaring Twenties romance series (BITTER SPIRITS), and the young adult contemporary romances THE ANATOMICAL SHAPE OF A HEART (aka NIGHT OWLS in the U.K.) and ALEX, APPROXIMATELY. Her books have earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, won the Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA® Award, received two Reviewers' Choice awards and a Seal of Excellence from RT Book Reviews, and been included on Publishers Weekly Best Books annual list. She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two pugs.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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Instead of featuring two warring bookstore owners, Alex, Approximately is about two soon-to-be high school seniors who strike up a friendship (and some flirtation) through their mutual love of classic films.
Mink and Alex aka Bailey and Porter develop a strong relationship even though they live on opposite sides of the country and don't even know each other's real names. Readers get the novel through Bailey's perspective, but we also get a look at her conversations with Alex/Porter through snippets of their message exchanges.
Alex becomes Bailey's closest friend, an amazing feat considering she dodges relationships (and confrontation) with the ease of a professional.
Alex, Approximately picks up after their friendship has already begun, and Bailey is going through a major change in her life: she's leaving behind her mother and pretentious stepfather behind in DC and moving to California to live with her father.
Coincidentally...her father happens to live in the same surfing town as Alex. Even more so, Alex happens to be Porter, one of the coworkers at her new California job.
To top it all off, neither Porter nor Bailey knows the true identity of the other, leading to some peak YA romance and turmoil.
Between Bailey and Porter, I honestly have to say that I liked Porter much better. Bailey, admittedly, is a tough person to love. She's kind, funny, and quirky, but she's more aloof than her counterpart.
Even though it was her choice to start this new life in California, Bailey approaches it with a hesitation that is almost comical. She can be socially awkward, but it's in a way that becomes quite endearing. Not to mention, her father is one of the MVPs of the novel- can I please just watch him geek out over Settlers of Catan? Her dad sounds like the most adorable adult human, ever.
Anyway- Porter is complicated. He, like Lennon (from Starry Eyes) is my favorite kind of snarky man. At first, he comes off like a jerk, but Bennett tries to redeem him when she reveals the details of his homelife. Once he starts to open himself up to Bailey and the possibility of knowing her, we get to discover the other facets of his personality. Underneath the snark is a family-oriented, vulnerable boy who needs to know that someone truly cares for him and will stand by his side. I'm not gonna lie- there were many times where I just wanted to reach into the book and give him a hug.
Of course, this being a YA romance, sparks fly between Bailey and Porter. I think Bennett writes their relationship pretty realistically; to be honest, I've seen other reviewers criticize the way their intimacy is described, but I think it's done in an appropriate and responsible way. As a teacher of 6th graders, I think it's fair to say that for every truly naive kid out there, there's at least a few who know more than the adults think they do. The romance is realistic- it's explosive in that first-love kind of way but also awkward and fumbling as they learn how to be close to one another.
Personally, I had no issue with any of it. If you like to play it on the safe side, I'd recommend the book for upper middle grades (8th) into high school.
Some other heavy topics include drug addiction/abuse. Porter's former best friend takes on a sort of villainous role, but there's something still pathetic about him, an addict who was led down a dark path after a serious injury. I wish this story line had been given a bit more depth, so that it wasn't as black and white as Davy becoming a villain due to his vices, but I can totally understand that there was just too much going on to tackle that too. There's a long history between Davy and Porter/Porter's family, so we (and Bailey) are also coming into their story after bridges have been well-burned.
Overall, Alex, Approximately was a sweet, funny read. True to the rom-com genre, it all works out in the end, so readers get the fun of cheering along with Bailey and Porter, holding our breath when their path gets rocky, and squealing when we get those adorable moments that we were hoping for.
That's what I like the most. Even if I found some parts predictable, the book still made me cheer, sigh, and celebrate with the characters. To me, that's the mark of a good story- when you're able to suspend your disbelief (I mean, really- what are the odds of him living in the same town as her father?), and just fall into the love of a new adventure.
I don't usually say this but the last few YA contemporaries I've read have been glorious! I think part of their appeal for me is that they're standalones. One book and you're done. I can't remember the last time I read a standalone book before I started my ARCs for this last month.
Alex, Approximately was the YA You've Got Mail retelling I never knew I needed until I picked it up. Despite Jenn Bennett being one of my favorite authors, I was kind of nervous going into this book. You've Got Mail is one of my top five favorite rom-coms so I was worried I was going to overhype myself for the story and be disappointed. But Bennett totally pulled it off! This classic hate-to-love story felt fresh and modern while staying true to the original!
This book was everything I love in a contemporary romance! It was swoony and the romance was everything! It's a classic hate-to-love story with the requisite witty banter between Porter and Bailey! The quips they volleyed back and forth were clever and those scenes were adorable! I loved that they manage to stump one another every once in a while and it just added to the dynamic. And hallelujah! There's no instalove in sight with this book. We get to watch Bailey and Porter's relation change over the course of a summer and it felt completely realistic and unrushed. Also, like Bennett's other YA contemporary, this book was very sex positive! There are open and honest conversations about and portrayals of sex, masturbation, and female pleasure in this book and we need so much more of that in YA.
I could continue to gush about the romance but there were so many other great things that worked with it to make the book so amazing. There's great friendships and awesome family dynamics! It was so refreshing to read a YA book that didn't have absentee parents! I seriously loved Porter and Bailey's families! Bailey’s dad is wonderfully nerdy and earnest and obsessed with Settlers of Catan. He was such a fun character to read! Porter’s family was just as great! They're a surfing family and I loved seeing their interactions in their shop and at home.
The other great thing in this book is the setting! The small town California atmosphere worked so great and only added to the story. I LOVED the museum Bailey and Porter work in! It's a weird mansion-turned-museum that was delightfully strange and quirky! It was almost like it was another character in the book!
If you can't tell by all of my gushing, I ADORED THIS BOOK! If you're looking for a fun summer beach read, Alex, Approximately is definitely one to add to your list!
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.
Most recent customer reviews
So I may have really liked Porter simply because his name reminds me of Frank Porter from Since You’ve Been Gone,...Read more
Couldn’t put it down.
Ms Bennett sure can write.
It’s one of those fantastic rom coms where nothing traumatic happens to the reader, just...Read more