Saturday, April 20, 2013

Review: This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Title: This is What Happy Looks
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Pages: 416 pages
Formate acquired: Hardcover
Publisher: Headline
Published on: April 4th 2013
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (Thanks, Sam!)
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

In This is What Happy Looks Like, Jennifer E. Smith's new YA novel, perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O'Neill meet—albeit virtually—when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an email about his pet pig, Wilbur. In the tradition of romantic movies like "You've Got Mail" and "Sleepless in Seattle," the two 17-year-olds strike up an email relationship, even though they live on opposite sides of the country and don't even know each other's first names.

Through a series of funny and poignant messages, Graham and Ellie make a true connection, sharing intimate details about their lives, hopes and fears. But they don't tell each other everything; Graham doesn't know the major secret hidden in Ellie's family tree, and Ellie is innocently unaware that Graham is actually a world-famous teen actor living in Los Angeles.

When the location for the shoot of Graham's new film falls through, he sees an opportunity to take their relationship from online to in-person, managing to get the production relocated to picturesque Henley, Maine, where Ellie lives. But can a star as famous as Graham have a real relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie's mom want her to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

Just as they did in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, the hands of fate intervene in wondrous ways in this YA novel that delivers on high concept romance in lush and thoughtful prose.

(Image and summary taken from Goodreads)


I've always been a huge Contemporary fan and Jennifer E. Smith's books are just one of my favorites of the genre. The way she nicely blends a sweet romance with underlying tension that keeps you worried throughout the book is one of the things I love about her writing. She knows how to keep her readers on edge but not too much to turn you off. And you'll never run out of "aww"-worthy moments reading her books (and cute guys! You can't forget the cute guys. *swoon*)

Books about online interaction (eg: meeting on the internet, meeting on the internet accidentally, meeting on the internet and accidentally talking to a celebrity, etc.) has always been one of my guilty pleasures. There's something so interesting about chance encounters that just draws me in. They just fascinate me and I know that those meetings are just the beginning of something greater (and sweeter.)

Ellie and Graham's story is as close to reality as you can get. Jennifer E. Smith shows us an in-depth view of what it really feels like to be a celebrity, a young one at that. It's not all cotton candy and pegacorns for them, these people struggle like every other normal being out there, sometimes even more. This is one of the things that really made me appreciate Graham. He's young but has already experienced so many hardships. His fame did not come without a cost; he's constantly hounded by the paparazzi, girls throw themselves at him all. The. Time, and his parents are estranged from him. But through all of these things, he still manages to live day by day.

Ellie's life isn't perfect either. She's got a secret and it's a BIG one. Whenever I read books that has a heroine with a deep, dark secret, I usually figure it out before the fourth or seventh chapter but I honestly didn't catch on as to what her secret was until she talked about it with her mom. I didn't really think it was that big of a deal but I understand as to why she decided to hide it from other people. Humans are known to be judgemental and her secret is definitely something people might judge her for. But I don't think her "secret" really defines who she is. Ellie is such a great girl, a very independent and witty girl but I feel like she needs better friends. While I thought that Ellie was a very likable person, her friend Quinn? Not so much. When she and Ellie were having a "disagreement" (wherein I think that Quinn was just overreacting,) she was such a huge b-i-t-c-h to Ellie. When Ellie needed her best friend the most, she wasn't there for her. I thought that Quinn was quite selfish and a bit self-centered and didn't really understand Ellie and her problems. But I guess that's what drama is all about.

I really loved the way the book started; with a conversation between Graham and Ellie. The very first one between them, it was about Graham's pig, Wilbur. You won't meet Wilbur in the story but you'll definitely heat about him a lot, but I love him. He seems so cute! And I absolutely just love the messages between Ellie and Graham. They talk about the most random things, ranging from ice cream flavors to things that look like happiness to them. Their conversations were sweet but not too sweet that it's sickening. Haha! I love the banter that goes on between them, you can pretty much see the chemistry between them. It's a tangible force that you'll notice it no matter what. As you read their story, you won't be able to resist rooting for them. #TeamGrallie or #TeamEllaham? Hahaha!

This is What Happy Looks Like is a sweet yet very realistic novel. You ask for something from this book but get something else entirely, in the end. It's not a bad thing but it will definitely catch you off guard. I really enjoyed reading this book and I can't wait to read more of Jennifer E. Smith's future works!



  1. Although this book isn't my favorite among Jennifer E. Smith's works, it has a very special spot in my heart. I can't put a finger on it but it has this certain kind of sweetness that makes the butterflies in your stomach flutter—it may be their love story (where Graham does everything for Ellie) or maybe it's just Graham Larkin's extremely good looks. Wait, what?

    1. This is What Happy Looks Like isn't most people's first choice in regards to Jen E. Smith's but it's definitely mine. HAHA There's just something so authentic but sweet about Graham and Ellie's love story. Oh my, the feels. And I agree, Graham is 100% swoon-worthy. Thanks for reading, Jarred!