Book review: Alex, Approximately, by Jenn Bennett

Bennet, Jenn. Alex, Approximately. Simon Pulse, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781481478779. 388 Pages. Ages 14+. P7Q6

After a traumatic home invasion, Bailey Rydell, a high school Junior, moves from her mother’s tumultuous house in DC to her dad’s on the California coast. The fictional town of Coronado Cove isn’t only a well-known surfing mecca; it also happens to be home to Bailey’s anonymous online classic film-buff crush. After her move, the story quickly dissolves into a romance novel for teenage readers. The quite involved online relationship that the two shared is revealed to be merely a MacGuffin; its existence drives her personal inspection as she half-heartedly searches for him until just about the last page despite unwittingly meeting him early on. The reader knows all along and must question the believability of the two characters not coming to the same conclusion much earlier in the story. The romantic aspect of the story is age appropriate, tasteful (if the reader can disregard the author’s unrestrained use of the word “sexy”), and subtly indicative that the sex these characters are having is most likely protected. In addition to tackling teenage affection, the novel briefly addresses some weightier topics like drug use, death, personal trauma, and climate change, of all things.

Verdict: This title isn’t strongly recommended. Perhaps the anonymity of the internet bestows a certain optional fluidity to our personalities—a useful (and increasingly necessary) bonus for today’s mercurial youth. The exhibition of this benefit makes Alex, Approximately relatable to high schoolers; although, it will be more popular among the younger grades.

May 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.

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