Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

“Meeting real-life Alex could be great, but it could also be on big awkward disappointment. Which is why I’m not really sure if I want to know anything more about him.”

This book was too cute. I love me a YA contemporary, but I especially love me a mistaken/hidden identity story as well. Now while this was a You’ve Got Mail retelling, it only just barely had its similarities. Baily & Alex are friends on some movie app/website thing. Their online personalities just click, and turns out Bailey’s dad lives in the same town as Alex. Not wanting to be shocked into a real life friendship, when Bailey ends up living with her dad she decides to try to find Alex by the clues left by their online conversations. Her summer plans are interrupted by none other than life carrying on.

As a re-telling I really wish the Bailey & Alex bit was a little more involved. Once she moved over we had more interactions with her friends, and I was really hoping for the moments that Alex would be…well helping her find Alex knowing all the while he had to woo her. Instead, we get her normal relationship with Porter and Gracie. Still, it was super sweet, and now I want to watch You’ve Got Mail. I loved all the movie quotes in the beginning of each chapter because it sort of set you up vibe wise with what you would encounter in that section.

The descriptions of the area in NW Cali was all on point and all I want to do is sit on the beach now with the morning fog rolling in around the ocean.

I loved the characters. They had these normal lives. Bailey had some unfortunate events that developed her character. There is reason as to why she loves the old flicks, there’s a reason why she doesn’t really get close to people, and a reason why she has an alias online. The only problem I had was that she had these classic movie obsessions, but it doesn’t really come out that much when she’s hanging with her friends. Sure she does her hair like Lana Turner, but I mean, if I was super into something my friends would know…So it was hard to believe that it never came up with her friends that she was a serious classic movie buff. I appreciated that she had her own style, but it wasn’t a major player in her character, it was noted, but it didn’t drive the story. There was never a moment of super low self-esteem, just typical shyness that a teen might have over her body or its marks.

I liked that Bennett didn’t pretend that kids just stop at making out. Kids have sex, all the time. Now, while I don’t want to have graphic detail of some teenagers getting it on, I also don’t want to pretend that things either 1. fade to black, or 2. it’s okay to start slut shaming. Thankfully Bennett doesn’t do either of those. In fact, the way she talks about the interactions of Bailey’s is almost comical in a -I’m a teen and I am not going to tell you everything, but let’s just get this straight, things happened. – sort of way.

Porter had that typical super-hot boy co-star thing going for him. But I mean, he’s a surfer, of course he has a great bod. And honestly, given his heritage, I’d probably swoon over him too. Porter had this defensive attitude that at first really turns Bailey off. Fortunately we don’t have to suffer through it as we get to know that Porter is actually just a sweet guy with his own issues and history.

Gracie is rad. I love that she and Bailey have a normal friendship. Sometimes in YA contemporaries we get stuck with these catty girls, and neither of these girls is like that. They support each other and cheer each other on, and when a small hiccup arises in their friendship they hash it out, even though it’s hard.

Davy hit a sore spot for me. And not in a ‘this character is not real’ sort of way, quite the opposite for me. Sometimes we get caught up in the romantic teen angst part of the story that we forget that people have real problems, and not just family stuff. To me, Davy was a completely believable character because I had a friend just like that – surfer, heroin addict turned homeless – all before the ripe age of 20. So when I see a character like Davy, it really breaks my heart. And I totally understand how much Porter suffers with trying to help a friend, only to have to let go if you don’t want to drown right with them.


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