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

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Synopsis: 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?

Genres: Young Adults Literature, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction

Cover: Well, first off it’s yellow and that’s my favorite color, so personally it’s one of the best covers I have ever seen. it has this sweet drawing of two people in a boat and although it may not sound like much when you look at it, it is. I love the color scheme it has for the color with black and grey and a nice yellow accent color. It really pops out at you and the word “Happy” is extra big to attract readers. It definitely attracted me.  

What I Have To Say: One one unexpected night Graham accidentally sends Ellie an email about his pet pig. After he notices that he had made a mistake and sent the email to Ellie, he still continues to talk to her and the two start to have a wonderful conversation. These conversations then start to take place daily until soon Ellie and Graham are sharing their deepest secrets and desires and they both feel something more, but of course this something more is never mentioned through their emails. Due to their locations with Ellie living in Maine and Graham residing in L.A., Ellie knows that there was no way that they could ever be more than internet pen pals.

Graham on the other hand has a plan. Unknown to Ellie’s knowledge, the boy she has been corresponding with, whom she refers to as “G”, is actually the Graham Larkin, the new heart throb of all the teenage girls in America. The actor plans to use his influence on his director for a new movie he is starring in, to move their set to Maine. Little does the movie crew know that Graham actually has his own agenda in Maine – to meet Ellie and bring their friendship to the next level. But of course, things are never that easy. Ellie has a family secret and needs to stay under the radar and becoming Graham Larkin’s new girl is not going to help her situation whatsoever. But even though her mother insists she should stay clear of Graham and she knows she should, she obviously does not want to. Although it is hard for Ellie to want to be around Graham because of all the stares coming their way whenever he was near and the paparazzi constantly following him, she cannot shake the feelings that she has for him in her heart.  As more and more things start to keep them apart it really is not clear whether Ellie and Graham will ever get to see what happy looks like.

First off, I would love to say that I absolutely adore Jennifer E. Smith. I read The Statistical Probability of Love at  First Sight ages ago and I gobbled it up. Even though it was not at first sight I did very much fall in love with her writing, her characters, her spontaneity, and her precious theme of “Anything is possible”. Her books are just so perfect and they provide every reader a little bit of paradise. When her characters fall in love, the reader is falling in love too and I love how she makes that possible for readers to be a part of the period of bliss in her happy endings. She is my inspiration and I aspire to be like her if I ever do succeed in becoming a writer.

Now, in This Is What Happy Looks Like, I revered at the banter between Graham and Ellie. Their relationship was authentic. They were both shy, nervous, and awkward in the beginning and it was just so realistic about the way two people would act when they just met and deep inside they both knew that it was inevitable they would fall for each other. Smith fabricated this original banter between Graham and Ellie that just seemed so light hearted and fun. I absolutely adored it. The romance between them, although difficult and quite stressful at times because of all the obstacles in their way, was funny, filled with wonder, and convivial. Although there are many happy times in this book, it is also filled with the perfect amount of heartbreak to drive the reader crazy, but push on reading the pages faster and faster, hoping that Graham and Ellie can escape from the world around them and have one pleasant moment together.

Another aspect I adored about this book was Graham’s narration. He is so funny, sweet, and at times a little dorky. Other times, he can be quite snarky too. He is indisputably charming and cute, but above all his love for Ellie is what actually made me fall in love with him. The way he describes her is so amiable and undeniably cute. The fact that he is a movie star living in a fast moving world and finds Ellie to be his anchor really is something special. She is the one who is not interested in the Graham Larkin. Ellie is the one who just wants Graham and he has waited so long to finally be just Graham again and she provides him with this opportunity. They need each other not just to escape from the world around them, but to also face it’s troubles and fight through it all – together.

This book was just beyond fantastic and Jennifer E. Smith is definitely a known favorite of mine. By the end of the book she will have readers convinced that what Ellie and Graham have together is their own unique form of what happy looks like, and that one day, no matter what, everyone will have their own too.  

Rating: ★★★★★ 

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