Book Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett  cover

Alex, Approximately
by Jenn Bennett
Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published: April 4th 2017
Rating: Summer Lovin'

Sometimes you have to endure painful things to realize that you’re a whole lot stronger than you think.

I don't think that I am particularly good at figuring out mysteries.  But I guess I am enough of a reader to see a plot twist coming if there is any amount of foreshadowing. Long story short: there is a plot twist in this book, and I called it on like, page 4.  However, as this is a light YA romance and not a mystery or a thriller my figuring it out didn't dull my enjoyment of this book. Also.. THE. BLURB. GIVES. IT. AWAY. Excuse me while I rage.

And there was a lot to enjoy. Most importantly, I was a fan of Baily. This is one of those books that really depends on the reader connecting to the main character and like her.  Mission accomplished.  I found her to be funny, impulsive, and vulnerable.  She doesn't always make the best choices, but I didn't spend the whole book planning on ways to get her to a therapist either. She has gone through and is going through some tough times, and although she compensated by avoiding conflict and unpleasantness, she isn't a train wreck. You can feel that she is going to be okay which is reassuring.

The central theme of this book is avoidance.  It is pretty much spelled out. Baily even understands that this is how she deals with things in her life. I appreciate this theme as someone who also tends to avoid conflict and unpleasantness. I do wish that it had been more subtle. Baily was just a little too aware of it. She out and out mentions it in the first page or so of the book. I feel as if the avoidance would be something that she would do subconsciously. Like realistically, she would self-sabotage by not dealing with things and then be frustrated with herself because not dealing just made everything worse. Either that or I wanted her to struggle more because of her avoidance so that she has to learn how to face things head on sometimes.  If something is going to be that thematically important I want some sort of payoff.  I didn't expect her to be "cured," but I did want some kind of change. Otherwise, what is the point?

Let's talk about sex and this book.  It was quite prominent, and I was pleased with how it was handled. The sex isn't graphic, but you know what exactly is going on and how. It definitely isn't implied.  You know the scenes that I am talking about in YA sometimes. Two characters will be talking; some random detail will be painstakingly described (perhaps the texture of the carpet?) and then a throwaway sentence.  Which you have to read eight times because, "Wait, did they just have sex?" That is not this book. Baily thinks about masturbation (which made me realize how rare that is especially in girl characters in YA).  Consent and protection are discussed beforehand. It isn't the biggest deal ever that it is her first time, but it also isn't trivialized.  I was comfortable with her with her decision-making process. Gold star. 

This was a quick and easy read that I smiled most of the way through. A great book for the summer.

Is this the kind of book you like for the summer?

From Goodreads:

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.