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(Warning: Review may contain spoilers!)
Jennifer E. Smith's book, This Is What Happy Looks Like, is a contemporary young adult novel set in a fictional small town of Henley, Maine (yes, I've done my research and found out that Henley, Maine is, in fact, purely fictional).
The book follows the story of Graham Larkin and Ellie O'Neill, both at the age of seventeen, but are from the opposite sides of the country, California and Maine, respectively. Due to Graham's mistake in typing the email address of the guy who is supposed to watch his pet pig, Wilbur, as he flies off to Maine to shoot his upcoming movie, his e-mail accidentally ends up in Ellie's inbox. And thus, beginning their online relationship—talking about their lives, hopes, dreams, fears, as well as how happiness looks like for the both of them. However, what Graham doesn't know about Ellie, is that her family holds a scandalous history with the media. In fairness, Ellie doesn't have any clue about Graham's life in the spotlight. When Graham sees an opportunity to relocate his movie set, he suggests that his crew shall take their entire production to Henley, Maine—the small town where Ellie lives—in hopes that he can finally meet her in person. But real life doesn't flow well like the movies, and it doesn't take long before Graham and Ellie are put under the troubles of staying under the radar in an attempt to protect one's identity and past.
If there is anything that I like about this book more than anything, is that the action started right off the bat. Usually, some of the books I've come across with before had to have some type of introduction—brief or not—before introducing the main love interest, or anyone or anything, even, and that sometimes can be a drawback for a reader like me, who is always on the hunt for action or conflict right away. I like how Smith already captured my full interest by igniting a light mix up upon the first few chapters, causing for the gears of my brain to turn in an attempt to foretell how the rest of the novel will play out.
Smith also showcased a lack of clichés, which I absolutely enjoyed. Yes, there is the commonplace female teen star attitude embodied by Olivia Brooks, who doesn't like to have bread on her sandwich. ("Not much of a sandwich," as Meg, the owner of the deli shop in Henley, Maine, commented about Olivia's lunch order.) Yes, there is the typical cliché of two best friends arguing because the other is keeping secrets—but it truly surprised me how there aren't a lot of clichés, especially when This Is What Happy Looks Like is a modern young adult contemporary book, which is the genre that is expected to have a lot of them.
Another thing that I like about Smith's novel is how supportive the characters are of one another. Throughout the entire story, it is very patent how Ellie's mother truly cares for her, and vice versa; how Ellie cares for Graham, and it shows through her occasional queries about his upcoming movie; how Graham cares for Ellie, of how supportive of her he is, and how he remembers the smallest details about her life. He is always present in times of her need. I just think that this book completely embraces the true meaning of what it is like to love and to be loved, of what it is like to care for someone and having the same care reciprocated, of what it is like to know that someone has got your back, especially when in times of desperate need.
Frankly speaking, there isn't really much that I don't like about the book. The only thing that really bothers me about it is the main guy's name, Graham. Stereotypically, I associate that sort of name to someone English; therefore, I had a hard time envisioning Graham Larkin as an American who resides in sunny California. Or not, as a walking and talking Graham cracker. But, the main guy's name is a minor thing. I can go pass that—hey, I managed to read the entire book, and I'm really proud to say that halfway through it, I finally warmed up to Graham's name!
If someone ever asks me if there is a book that I would recommend for them to read, this one will undoubtedly be included in my list. This book will indisputably win the hearts of readers who are really into contemporary and likes reading about young love. This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith is a lighthearted book, a nice and cozy summer read, that will truly warm our hearts for all the love it radiates.
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
You can see more of my reviews here at: Take Me Away...
With this being my first book by Jennifer Smith, I fully expected it to be great. Everyone speaks very highly of her other novels, so I was hoping I wouldn't be let down. And believe you me, I wasn't.
This whole book to me was very ironic. One of the main characters, Graham, is a famous movie star who falls in love with a girl from a very small town named Ellie, the other main character. That in itself sounds like a movie doesn't it?! And that had to be my favorite part of the book. Although it was about the filming of a movie, Smith's writing style let it play out like a movie in my head.
One thing I loved about this was the main plot pint, or the romance. There are so many cute times that I found myself smiling ear to ear and it didn't even happen to me. But then were times where I was so excited and I felt really bummed when things didn't go their way. (*ahem* the kitchen scene*) But, because of those scenes, it made the ones where they were actually together so much more special.
The only thing I didn't like about the novel was some of the characters. Like Ellie. I understood that she had something that she had something going on in her life, but she shut Graham out without really giving him a chance. I felt like he was so misunderstood. Like as much as she wanted to get away from the cameras and all the fame, I felt like he did too but she never saw that in him. Then there was Quinn. Like really, what the hell was her deal? There was no way she was that mad over finding out about some emails from someone that Ellie never thought she would meet. I just think she was jealous. She annoyed me for the most part of the story. As for Graham, I loved him from the beginning. He is now a new "Book Boyfriend" I've added to my team lol He's smart, cute, a good actor, he's funny, he's not afraid to defend her, and he's definitely not afraid to let his emotions show. Plus, guys he has a pig named Wilbur lol
When I started this book, I wasn't in the best mood. I remember I was fighting with family, my boyfriend, and I was stressed out at work, and I just had so much going on. But as I got deeper and deeper into the story and saw all that Graham and Ellie went through, I saw that they belonged together. In the end, their relationship and the book reminded me all that makes me happy and because of that I found myself smiling from the beginning to the very end.
I really enjoyed The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. I was excited to read This Is What Happy Looks Like and see what characters and story Smith was going to bring us. This is What Happy Looks Like is an adorable contemporary about two teens who meet by chance via wayward email. Of course, small town Ellie doesn't realize that this mysterious stranger she is crushing on by email is the famous movie-star that just happens to be filming a movie in her town.
I really enjoyed the idea behind This Is What Happy Looks Like. The chance email meeting, the movie star/normal girl love interest, the problems and hilarity that is sure to come with that. I think Jennifer E. Smith did a really great job of portraying the characters and how this teen movie star would feel. His quick rise to fame, and it's effect on him, and how no one ever sees the "real" him. While I had to suspend belief on some things, it was a charming story.
I really liked Ellie's character. She is spunky and witty. The email correspondences between her and and Graham were full of fun and hilarious things. Graham is a win for me just for having a pig named Wilbur and a burning desire to find a Whoopie Pie. How is that not a winning guy???
While This Is What Happy Looks Like was a delightful read, I do think it is one that will fall off my radar rather quickly. At over 400 pages it was a little long for a quick beach or summer read, although it did seem to read quickly. There was nothing about it, or the characters, that seemed to really pop enough that I think This Is What Happy Looks Like is going to be making a lasting impression on me.