This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Published: April 2nd 2013 by Poppy/Hachette
Source: ARC from publisher
Synopsis (Goodreads): 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?
My thoughts: I’m having a trouble putting into concrete terms why I liked this so much. The premise is a bit ridiculous. The stray email about the pet pig is probably the most unrealistic yet totally adorable meet-cute there ever was. As far-fetched as these types of coincidences usually seem in books, they do sometimes happen in real life. Plus, I want to believe in this type of “fated” love. It just makes me feel good. I fell hook, line, and sinker for this seaside romance between a simple, everyday girl and the movie star she met on the Internet.
This is What Happy Looks Like reads like a movie. Think You’ve Got Mail + Notting Hill set in a New England seaside beach town. It follows a simple formula and is full of quiet moments rather than big, exciting action. But it works.
Ellie is a great girl. She’s friendly, hard-working, has a decent relationship with her mother—not too much darkness going on in her life. Sure, she’s got a secret and some baggage, but all in all, she’s a wholesome kid.
Graham is a nice guy. Sure, he’s Hollywood’s hottest star, but it all feels awkward and foreign to him. He doesn’t abuse his stardom. We get to see how isolated and lonely that kind of life can be.
Do these characters seem just a tad too good to be true? Yes. But there’s nothing wrong with a little escapist fun now and then. The plot line is fairly predictable for anyone who has every seen a typical chick flick. Still, this is a romance that charmed me and I know it will be a hit with a lot of contemporary romance fans.
Recommended for fans of:
- My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick for the romance and parent in politics storyline
- Being Friends with Boys by Terra Alan McAvoy for complications with the best friend
- Going Vintage by Lindsay Leavitt for the Internet connection + cute factor
Anna Reads: ” …it lacked some of the heart-stopping urgency that sucks me into books like this. But regardless, This Is What Happy Looks Like absolutely confirmed that Jennifer E. Smith knows how to write about things girls want to read.”
Jen @ YA Romantics: “I’d recommend This Is What Happy Looks Like to fans of romantic comedy and to readers of contemporary YA who like their books sweet and light, like a scoop of sherbet on a hot summer day.”
Hobbitsies: ” Jennifer E. Smith has a way of really combining fun and moving into one story – with exceptional writing all the way through it. There’s a lot of backstory in the beginning, information that’s really crucial to the characters and who they are now. Ordinarily I might have been a bit bored, but with Jennifer E. Smith’s writing, I was hooked.”
Page after Page Reviews: “The plot was far from exciting although it was wonderfully sweet. This is a book that doesn’t need massive, shocking things to happen in order for it to be extremely entertaining. The setting is also fabulous. The little town in Maine where Ellie lives provides a very calming setting and one which is described very well.”