Thursday, June 6, 2013

REVIEW: "This Is What Happy Looks Like" by Jennifer E. Smith

This Is What Happy Looks Like
This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
For Ages 13+
Young Adult -- Contemporary
Poppy -- April 2, 2013
Hardcover, 416 pages
Borrowed from the Library

Across the Tracks, Family Issues, Disguises

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

It was not all that different from the circus and it came to town in much the same way.

I've heard good things about Jennifer E. Smith's 2012 release, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, so, when I found This is What Happy Looks Like at the library, I knew I had to try it out.  YA contemporary is not a genre that I read much, but I was impressed by this one.  The premise was cute, the characters were pretty well-developed, and the romance was sweet even if it was a little far-fetched.

Basically, the plot of the book is that Graham Larkin, Hollywood's current "it boy", messes up an email address and his message regarding his pet pig, Wilbur, is sent to Ellie O'Neill in Maine.  They start emailing back and forth and become friends.  So, when it comes to find a place to film his latest movie, Graham convinces the film crew that Ellie's hometown would be perfect.  What follows is a sweet summer romance that is perfect for any beach vacation.

I really liked the way that Jennifer E. Smith depicted Graham.  He is a famous movie star, but, underneath it all,  is a teenager who is sweet and lonely despite the people that surround him on a regular basis.  I appreciated the fact that she made it clear he loves his job as an actor and enjoys some of the perks like we all would.  But, she isn't afraid to point out some of the disadvantages to living life in the spotlight especially when it comes to privacy.  It was just nice to read about a guy with a good head on his shoulders who was a genuinely good person.

The heroine, Ellie, was another nice person who was written so well that it was easy to imagine her as a real person living in a small town in Maine.  I liked her wide range of interests like poetry and her often witty remarks (especially in the emails she exchanged with Graham).  There is the token BIG SECRET that Ellie and her mom is hiding which causes quite a bit of drama in the romance department, but I thought it was an original idea that worked for the story line.

The love story between Graham and Ellie was very cute and fairy tale-like.  Readers get to see their relationship start and evolve through the emails in the prologue which I loved.  I thought it was an interesting approach that Graham and Ellie never denied the fact that they liked each other.  They really seemed to understand one another with the major conflict being Ellie's, understandable, reluctance.  I do wish that we could have been given an epilogue to wrap everything up, but the ending was realistic for summer teen romance.

Overall, This is What Happy Looks Like was a fun and entertaining book that has made me interested in the rest of Jennifer E. Smith's writing.  The plot was light and airy with very little drama which I liked.  It was just two people trying to figure out if there is a place for another in their lives.  Great beach read that I definitely recommend!

4 STARS -- Really enjoyable book that is just this close to being wonderful.  May or may not re-read.

"There are different kinds of happy," she said. "Some kinds don’t need any proof."


  1. I think I will read this boks soon. It's seems like a light read this summer. Loved reading your review :)

  2. I liked This is What Happy Looks Like, too. I actually did like Statistical more though. I was a little meh about Ellie's BIG SECRET though. Glad you enjoyed this one.

  3. Lovely review! I plan to read this one soon, I'm really excited to see if it's as good as Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.


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