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 a 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.
I only recently learned that "beach read" means different things to different people. For me a beach read has always been something summery, easy to pick up and put down, to jump in and out of the story as you need to. This works because my beach trips are intermittently interrupted by my younger brother and sister - a book that totally absorbs my attention would just lead to upsets.
But for some a beach read is a book you can get totally lost in. And somehow Alex, Approximately manages to be both. The story was engaging and adorable - I was completely drawn into the characters lives and could easily have read this in one sitting. But equally, its a gentle read that lends itself to taking breaks when needed (cause we all have to eat sometime).
The main characters were so lovely and three dimensional. Knowing, from the blurb, that Porter was Alex means that I had this sort of ironic detachment from their drama. I could laugh at the misunderstandings and root for them to figure it out already!! They say it best at the end when they talk about having cheated on each other with each other. It's the worlds weirdest love triangle (super You've Got Mail) and I loved it. The side characters were also engaging but to be honest it was definitely the main couple that held my attention throughout.
The entire story is based on miscommunication and misunderstandings so if you hate either or both of those things - this might be frustrating to you. Usually I hate them, but here, somehow it became super entertaining and I genuinely enjoyed the whole journey. I found myself frequently angry at the adults in the story - but that's just a general thing with Young Adult so I can't get too mad. All the Young Adults of the story felt mature enough to carry the book on their own and I would sometimes forget their age and read it as if it were an adult contemporary.
The romance was the biggest, and best, part of the story. I love stories like this, with hate-to-love and pen pals. It sounds weird to separate them but Porter was easily more likable than Alex. Perhaps because we only get snippets of the Alex conversations whilst Porter is on page more often - I just grew to love him much faster. And yes, I know they're the same person, but it's easy to forget that sometimes. I did love having the email conversations in there as well, chat logs and letters are always such an intriguing thing to have in a book and they were nice light ways to end a chapter.
Overall, if you're looking for a cute summery read then I would definitely recommend Alex, Approximately. I doubt this will be one of my favourite books of the year but it was a quick and enjoyable read and sometimes that's all I want.
Story - 3/5
Characters - 4/5
Romance - 5/5
Cover - 4/5
Beach Ready - 5/5
Beach Ready - 5/5