Apr 18, 2013

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

Title: This Is What Happy Looks Like
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Poppy
Publishing Date: April 2, 2013
Pages/Format: 416, ARC

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?

Initial Reaction of Book in One Word: CUUUTE!

I'll admit that I was a little wary going into this book. I wasn't the biggest fan of Smith's other cutesy novel The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, and I feared I wouldn't be a big fan of this one either. But the synopsis--a regular girl emailing a movie star (and he has a PIG!)--and comparisons to You've Got Mail were very tempting. Plus, the cover! (It's the font that does it.) Fortunately, This Is What Happy Looks Like was not disappointing; while I didn't love it, I really liked it, and it made me eager for Jennifer E. Smith's future novels.

This book was not what I thought it was going to be like. For one, I think the You've Got Mail comparison is kind of a stinker. Emails were exchanged--and some were quite lovely--but that's about the only similarity. (SPOILER) I thought Graham and Ellie wouldn't meet in person until at least halfway through the book, but they meet in one of the first few chapters. Not that I minded--there are some great romantic possibilities when both characters are together--but it was kind of surprising. (END SPOILER) And the story was a bit deeper than I had expected (but not super deep--it's still a bit more of a cute novel). It's told from the POV of two characters--Graham and Ellie. Ellie is a small town girl and Graham is a movie star. When Graham accidentally emails Ellie, they begin conversing, but never say who they are. So when Graham's new film shoots in Ellie's town, opportunities arise.  Through it all, we learn about the characters. Ellie has issues with her father and her past, and she wants to go to a poetry seminar at Harvard over the summer, but she can't afford it. Graham's famous, and while he loves acting, life isn't the same as it was pre-fame. He's certainly not perfect, and it was cool to be inside his head.

I don't recall really disliking anything in the book; I just wanted more or less of some things. Being a sucker for romance, that's what I wanted more of: more moments that are just sweet and cute and Graham and Ellie. With that, I wanted less of a back story. (But it wasn't bad or anything. I just wanted more romance, because I'm that kind of person.) However, the moments they did have, along with their little adventures, were fun and adorable. Minus Graham's star status, they were both pretty normal people--nothing spectacular, just average, and I liked that. I also really liked the use of love in this story. (SPOILER) I could be wrong, but I don't think Ellie and Graham ever said they loved each other; it wasn't brought up. (If I'm mistaken, my apologies!) While I do love the use of love, there's something nice about it not being used. After all, the two have only known each other for a matter of months, and a lot of that was just through email. Plus, they're young. Could they really love each other? Maybe. But if they did, it wasn't mentioned, and I thought that was interesting, realistic, and kind of refreshing, and I appreciated it.

Is this what happy looks like? I don't know. I think this was a book about realizing that you already had some happiness, while finding some more. It was a simple and fun read that was nice to breeze through, with nice portions of cuteness. (I know, I use that word a lot.) I'm pretty sure this is a standalone, but with that ending, I'd really like more; I don't know what's going to happen next. Really, I have no idea, and I need IDEAS. If you weren't a fan of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, have no fear--give this one a try. It was an enjoyable read I devoured that, well, makes you happy. And it had cuteness. Did I mention that yet?

Did I like it? Yes!
Did I love it? Not quite.
Would I reread it? Possibly.
Would I purchase it? I wouldn't mind having a finished copy.
Would I recommend it? Yep!


  1. Great review! I enjoyed Statistical very much, so I'm really looking forward to reading this one :) How did you get a copy? :D

    1. It was at ALAMW. I wasn't there the day it was handed out, so a friend picked it for me. (: But it's out now!

  2. People keep really liking this one! It does sound amazingly cute! Oh and I really like your new layout!

  3. Am I crazy or did you change your design? It's super cute :). I'm a big romance fan too I love when books have tons and tons of romance. This one doesn't sound like it needs it though. The story might be enough. I enjoyed this authors first book. I didn't love it though. I'm hoping I love this one when I get the chance to read it. It sounds like a adorable story :). Great review!


  4. I've been meaning to read this one ever since I picked it up at ALA and after reading your review I think I'm going to have to move it up the TBR. It sounds so cute and I have a feeling I'll really like it.

    Great review!

  5. This book was really great. I couldn't stop reading it! The
    storyline/plot was so cute and attracting. Jennifer E. Smith hits a home
    run with this book in my opinion.
    Best AB&T

  6. I loved this book because it is a simple, well written story. The characters felt real and I thought it was very original. I like the way it starts with the emails about his pet pig. I'd totally recommend this book to anyone.


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