by Jenn Bennett
To be published by Simon Pulse
on April 4, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.My take: I really liked Jenn Bennett's debut YA, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, so I was super-excited to get my hands on this.
I liked it a lot, with one exception. But first let's focus on what I loved. Jenn Bennett has a gift for creating appealing, quirky characters and settings. I loved vintage-weraing, film buff Bailey and not-stereotypical-at-all surfer dude Porter. I loved Coronado Cove, the cute little California beach town where the story takes place. I loved The Cavern Palace, the crazy museum/memorabilia shop where Bailey and Porter work. (Is it like a more downscale Hearst Castle? I've never been there, so not sure...) Loved Bailey's relationship with her dad, loved her BFF Grace. There was a LOT to love.
What I didn't love as much was the whole "You've Got Mail" set-up As the synopsis says, Porter (aka Alex) and Bailey (aka Mink) have an online-only friendship. She knows he lives in the same part of California as her dad, but doesn't tell him that she's moving there. So there's that -- the whole "keeping secrets" trope. Then there's the weirdness of two teenagers in 2017 who are friends online -- but not on Facebook or Instagram, just on a film fanatics online message board. Then you have the fact that, after Bailey moves to California, she sort of half-heartedly tries to track down her online soulmate IRL. To me, the book spent too much energy trying to keep this secret from the characters until the very end. That all didn't seem to bother most of my friends on Goodreads, but it did me.
In any case, that small negative was far outweighed by all the amazing positives about this book. Definitely put it on your TBR if you're a fan of contemporary YA romances!