Title: Alex, Approximately
Author: Jenn Bennett
Date Published: April 4, 2017
Rating: 3.75/5 stars
Date read: April 16, 2020
Alex, Approximately follows 17-year-old Bailey (Mink) Rydell. She’s just moved across the country to live with her father. She’s a movie buff and has been chatting online quite a bit with a boy named Alex, and, unbeknownst to him, she just happens to be moving to the same town as him. Bailey proceeds to spend her summer working and flirting with an obnoxious boy named Porter, and trying to uncover Alex’s identity.
I first read Alex, Approximately when I was just getting back into reading, just after its release day and I loved it, and proceeded to pick up every other Jenn Bennett novel that followed, and much to my dismay I didn’t love any of them nearly as much. So, going into this reread of Alex, Approximately, I was hesitant. Naturally I was really surprised to find I still like Alex, Approximately.
Jenn Bennett is fantastic at writing romance. She manages to perfectly capture the innocence, sweetness, and self-doubt that comes with two teenagers crushing on each other, and as a result the flirtation between Bailey and Porter was spot-on. I like that Bailey and Porter’s relationship progressed slowly and organically, they start off not getting along, but that develops slowly into friendship, and then from there romantic feelings blossom. While Bailey is physically attracted to Porter right off the bat, she isn’t fixated on his looks and her feelings feel like they come from her knowing him as a person.
Bennett is also fantastic at writing characters, and I appreciated the representation she included in her novel. Bailey feels extremely fleshed out, as do majority of the side characters. She feels like an authentic teenage voice
then again I’m not a teenager, so do I really know what an authentic teenage voice is?. Bailey starts off pretty passive, and she refers to herself as an evader, but over time she learns to open up. She has to work to get out of her shell, and it doesn’t feel like an instantaneous change. I also like that the novel wasn’t wholly focused on romance, and that Bailey’s relationships with her father and with her new best friend Grace were important to the story.
My one complaint with Alex, Approximately is that it’s a bit too dramatic for my personal tastes, as I tend to prefer light and fluffy romances. Both Bailey and Porter have very dramatic backstories, and Bailey’s deals with PTSD (I don’t know how accurate this representation is). But what really didn’t work for me was Porter’s drama with his ex-friend Davey, I think this didn’t add anything to the story. As for the drama at the end of the book, I also have had an online friend who I shared an extremely meaningful relationship with, and I’m not sure how I would have reacted to Bailey’s situation. Given her age I don’t think her reaction was too out-there though, and it made sense given her personality and the situation.
Overall I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a cute, sweet romance.
Content warning: gun violence, stalking, violence
Have you read Alex, Approximately? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗