The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.
Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.
And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.
This fun, summery contemporary read was so delightful to read! Bennett’s contemporaries have been a success, and I do adore her refreshing writing, coupled with delightful characters who undergo tremendous growth and gorgeous settings. Alex, Approximately follows a film-loving girl on her huge move from the city to a small surfing town in California, where she creates memorable friendships and explores family relationships. With a fresh, relaxing vibe to carry out Bailey’s summer, the setting of the book was absolutely magnetic and un-put-downable – a perfect summer read!
The book starts with Bailey moving with her dad to a small town on the California coast, where coincidentally, her online movie buff friend also lives in. The setting was so atmospheric – I could smell the salt of the sea and the gritty texture of the sand while reading. The town featured surfers (woohoo!), small family-owned business stores, and food carts that sell yummy things like churros. A perfect summer vacation place! If anything, I would compare the tone to the filters on Instagram: vibrant, colorful, and energetic. Gotta have that aesthetic, am I right?
I loved reading from Bailey’s first person POV. She’s very down-to-earth, has great voice, and not without her flaws. She likes to avoid things, choosing to run from problems rather than stick it out and meet them head-on. She knows it too, but doesn’t really do much about it in the beginning of the book. When Bailey gets a summer job at a tourist museum, she meets new friends that are both supportive and sweet. I love the friendships she discovers, and especially the antagonistic romance she had with Porter, who loves to tease her in a totally adorkable way.
“It’s a masterpiece of avoidance. My name is Bailey Rydell, and I’m a habitual evader.”
One of my favorite relationships in the book was Bailey and her father, who she was not that close to since her parents are divorced. But he becomes a trustworthy confidante soon enough, acting as both supporter and friend to Bailey in her progress of navigating a new life. I loved their interactions and the positive father-daughter relationship in general. Their family dynamics were just so lovely to see!
Alex, Approximately also had amazing dialogue that I could really relate to. I love how adorkable Bailey was about being a film geek and how she’s not afraid to call out problematic aspects in the classics as well. The romance with Porter was just all sorts of delightful, cute, and tantalizing. Y’all know how much I enjoy antagonistic relationships, and the development from enemies to frenemies to actual friends and something more was just perfect in this book. I also adore the sex-positive scenes in the book! It comes with all the awkwardness and restlessness of young love, and Porter and Bailey are just perfect for each other. I love how basically all the characters in the book just pop out of the pages. They’re refreshing and full of vivacity, making this contemporary extremely easy to read and love. Bailey’s character growth was also a steady yet sure progression, as she learns to face her problems head-on instead of constantly avoiding them. Bennett just has an amazing way with writing characters, and the ones in this book just snuck into my heart.
“Maybe Walt Whitman was right. We all really do contradict ourselves and contain multitudes. How do we even figure out who we really are?”
I adored Alex, Approximately! Adorable, and as sweet as a churro dipped in chocolate, this book will make you laugh out loud at each character’s’ antics and fall in love with the trust and burgeoning friendships that come after a move across the coast. Following Bailey’s character growth was just amazing, especially when you add the super swoony romance (and banter!) that also features sex-positive scenes. I would totally recommend this for readers looking for a refreshing read for the summer.