This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Published: December 2013
Genre: young adult, contemporary, romance
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?
An accidental email ignites an anonymous yet close bond between two teens. Both have their secrets, and it’s not until a movie set hits Ellie’s small Maine town before she discovers Graham’s. GDL824 is rising teen movie star Graham Larkin, and he’s determined to move their relationship off the computer screen to in-person. But Ellie’s hesitant, and it’s not till Graham’s manager scoops up the story that her avoidance of the cameras comes to light.
I fell in love with The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, then had a great experience with The Geography of You and Me. This meant I was bound to love this novel — especially one surrounding witty emails and then “meeting IRL.” Feels so current, right?
There was enough here that I enjoyed the read for what it was. Graham is sweet, a pretty standard YA love interest whose only complication is the fact he’s famous. Ellie, too, is a rather uncomplicated individual, whose secret is really her mother’s secret. While I completely understood why she’d want to avoid the media — and I agree, with both Ellie and Graham in the spotlight, it would make something of a scandal — it didn’t feel as urgent as it was made out to be.
And, for this to be a great love story, I felt the romance part lacked a bit. There wasn’t enough of the email exchanges to make me fall in love with Graham, or in love with their love. I had to be told about previous exchanges through Ellie or Graham’s flashbacks. It came across as an intense friendship more than anything else because of it.
I guess what I’m saying is, if you want a good summer read around the 4th of July, complete with an ordinary small-town character dating a celebrity and all that comes with it, this is the book. It doesn’t contain the emotional impact of Stat Prob or Geography, but the bones of Smith’s writing is all there.
2 thoughts on “Book Review: “This is What Happy Looks Like” by Jennifer E. Smith”
Lauren | Bookmark Lit
Totally agree! I wasn’t the biggest fan of this one. The idea was cute but the romance was totally lacking because there wasn’t enough chemistry or real interaction 😦
Exactly! Ah well. I’ve heard good things about her next one coming out — have you seen it?