Fun Teen Romance – Alex, Approximately Is A Must Read For 2017

30312700I love the movie, You’ve Got Mail.  So when Alex, Approximately was sold in the vein, I had to read it.  It is a fun read both teens and adults will enjoy.  Bailey is moving in with her dad in a California town. Her mom’s marriage isn’t going so well which is why Bailey is ready for the switch. She meets Alex online at a chat room for film enthusiasts.  He only knows Bailey as Mink, her nickname.  Alex wants her to visit and watch North by Northwest with him on the beach.  He lives in the same town as her dad.  She keeps the fact that she is moving there a secret, figuring she might try to hunt him down before revealing herself  She has a cool vespa and job at an interesting cave/mansion/museum.  The only issue is the obnoxious security guard, surfer named Porter.  While Bailey tries to follow the clues to Alex, Porter gets under her skin.  After irritating each other, a romance begins. Bailey is torn between Porter and Alex who she’s never met. Little does she know that Porter is Alex, approximately.  This is a fun teen romance that has a great sense of place.  I felt like I was in the museum or at the beach with Bennett’s descriptive writing.  The story line about how Porter got his scar and his family history of surfing is a good plot line as well. I have a fear of sharks too. This is one to put our your to read list for 2017.  It will be released April 4th.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss online relationships.  Are they a good idea?  Have you ever had one?

Discuss any old movies you’ve seen that you liked.  Have you seen any mentioned in the book?

Talk about Bailey’s sense of Old Hollywood style.  What is your style?

Discuss the friendship between Porter and his friend with the drug problems.

What would you do if you were locked in the museum overnight?

Discuss what draws Porter and Bailey together even when they didn’t hit it off right away.

Why do you think Bailey’s mother didn’t contact her that summer?

Discuss Porter’s reaction when he found out that Bailey was Mink.




The Memory Of Things is a brilliant teen read that unfolds in the shadow of 9/11.

28220960In 2016 several new historic fiction books came out about 9/11.  I am trying to read them all.  Gae Polisner’s The Memory Of Things is fantastic!  I highly recommend it for middle school and up.  The characters are in high school.  Kyle gets separated from his classmates and walks across the Brooklyn Bridge back home.  On his way he finds a girl wearing angel wings, covered in ash.  She looks like she might jump.  He can’t just leave her there so he brings her home with him.  The girl can’t remember her name or what just happened.  His mother and sister are stuck in California and cannot get a flight home.  His father, who is a NYPD detective is busy at ground zero, trying to find his fellow police officers.  Kyle and the girl are alone in the apartment with his Uncle Matt.  Because of an accident, his uncle needs around the clock care.  He was a detective too.  Kyle and the mysterious girl exist inside their post 9/11 bubble, watching the news, caring for his uncle and not sure what to do next.  Kyle doesn’t think he can take the girl to the police just yet with so little information and no one really sure what is going on.  He tries to help her remember who she is.  The story is beautifully written with her confusing point of view alternating with Kyle’s point of view.  Slowly, like removing the petals on a lovely flower, we learn who this girl is.  It is a sweet love story, but can it survive once the girl finds out who she truly is?  It is a page turner and a way to introduce the events of the day and the chaos of the aftermath.  I also love this cover!  The Memory Of Things is another favorite read of 2016.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Do the teens have any memories of 9/11?  Were they born yet?  How old where they?  What do they know about that day?

Discuss how this story takes place in a bubble of sorts.  Kyle hasn’t spoken to many friends since he evacuated after the attack and he hasn’t seen his mother or sister.  His father is barely home.  His world became smaller in these days after the attack.

Discuss this passage: “I spin and I spin and I spin.  I’m a jewel box ballerina, and he is the music that’s winding me.”

Discuss Kyle’s relationship with his Uncle Matt.

Do you think Kyle’s relationship with the girl can last outside of their bubble?

The Sun Is Also A Star is my favorite read of 2016.


Nicola Yoon creates a story that weaves together lives that collide by chance and shows how we are all interconnected.  The Sun Is Also A Star is one of my favorite reads in 2016.  It is written for teens but adults will love it too.  Daniel is the son of Korean immigrants.  He is on his way to an interview to get into what his mother calls “second best school” also known as Yale.  Natasha’s family is set to be deported that night to Jamaica.  Her father’s DUI made the family’s undocumented status known and Natasha is trying one last time to halt the deportation. Because a security guard takes too long getting Natasha through the line, she misses her last chance appointment but gets a shot with another attorney.  While killing time before her appointment, she collides with Daniel.  Daniel has been looking for signs ever since the subway driver evangelized to the passengers.  Did this happen for a reason?  Then he sees the dues ex machina jacket Natasha is wearing and follows her because he thinks this might be a sign.  The two meet and an adventure begins.  Is this by chance or destiny?  As the two get to know each other, Daniel explains that there is a science to falling in love.  He thinks he can make Natasha fall in love with him.  Natasha is a scientist and is skeptical.  The story unfolds into beautiful character development as we get to know these two exceptional characters.  It is told in point of view with many other perspectives from side characters and theories.  I couldn’t put it down and was deeply moved at the end.  I dare you not to cry during this one.  Good luck!

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

How are these characters similar or different?

Discuss how we touch each others lives without knowing it.

Discuss when Natasha says: “Human beings are not reasonable creatures.  Instead of being ruled by logic, we are ruled by emotions.”

Discuss when Natasha observes Rob and Kelly and thinks, “He’s very persuasive, and she wants to be persuaded.”

Discuss when Daniel says that Natasha makes him think his life could be extraordinary.

What do you think about the science behind falling in love?

Read out loud the discussion about culture and what people think on pages 156 & 157.  Discuss.

Discuss Natasha’s thoughts about hair on page 130.

Discuss when Natasha says, “It is not up to you to help other people fit you into a box.” (pg. 158)

Discuss how the waitress  feels about culture and why she felt that Natasha should use the chopsticks.

Discuss their fight in the park.  (pgs 192-195)

Discuss when Daniel says, “We tell ourselves there are reasons for the things that happen, but we’re just telling ourselves stories.  We make them up.  They don’t mean anything.”

Discuss the ending and how the security guard fits into it.