“In this delightfully charming teen spin on You’ve Got Mail, the one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.
Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “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 arch-nemesis. 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.”
Happy Book Birthday to Alex, Approximately! I absolutely adored this YA contemporary of epic romantic comedy proportions, so I’m sharing five reasons why you should read Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett.
- It’s a You’ve Got Mail retelling. That’s right, one of the most iconic ‘90s romcoms, starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, gets the YA treatment and Jenn Bennett totally pulls it off. Bennett updates the plot and characters in a way that feels fresh and modern, while still remaining true to this tell of hate to love with unknown identities.
- The romance is next-level swoon worthy. Bailey and Porter have one of my top requirements for a ship: witty banter with a healthy side of hate to love dynamics. I also loved that they manage to stump one another every now and then, but the scenes in which they volley quips back and forth were cute and clever. The development of their relationship felt realistic and not rushed, and the reader gets to see them progress over the course of an entire summer – no instalove here.
- Best summer job in YA…ever? Bailey, Porter, and Bailey’s best friend Grace all work at this odd mansion-turned-museum that is, in a word, freaking weird. But the museum felt like a character onto itself, in all of its strange and quirky glory. Scenes between Bailey, Grace, and Porter in the “Hotbox” ticket booth were some of my favorites. I’ve read plenty of YA contemporaries in which our protagonists work at a camp, or some other standard summer job, but the museum in Alex, Approximately takes the cake.
- It’s sex positive. We can have an entire conversation about the representation of sex in YA books another today (because oh boy could I write an essay on that topic), but suffice it to say that I’m hyper aware of when books are expressly sex positive or negative. Alex, Approximately is sex positive in all the best ways. There are open, honest conversations about (and portrayals of) sex, masturbation, and female pleasure. I think this kind of representation is extremely important, and Jenn Bennett did an excellent job of incorporating this aspect of Bailey and Porter’s relationship into the overall story.
- I love a good family dynamic. It’s no secret that I hate the ways YA commonly deals with parents: they are either nonexistent or uninvolved for the most part. Thankfully, Alex, Approximately has some truly amazing families. Bailey’s dad is earnest and obsessed with Settlers of Catan, and he was such a joy to read. Porter’s family has a surfing legacy, and I loved seeing their dynamics in their shop and home. Even though these characters are also dealing with their own issues, I really enjoyed spending time with the different families in this novel.
Well, those are five reasons why I think you should read Alex, Approximately when it comes out on April 4 from Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster! If you need even more reasons to, check out my video review below.
Let me know what ‘90s romantic comedy you think should get its own retelling in the comments!
*I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for a free and honest review.