Published by: Little Brown Books for Young Readers on April 2, 2013
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
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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.
I was first drawn to This Is What Happy Looks Like because my boyfriend and I met online and I loved the idea of reading a book about people who meet through e-mail! Now their story doesn’t come close to how my boyfriend and I met and how things progressed from there, but I guess I didn’t expect it to. This Is What Happy Looks Like is fun and a bit fluffy, and is overall a really enjoyable book!
One of the things I loved most about This Is What Happy Looks Like is that there are no annoying, petty arguments between Graham and Ellie. I hate it in books when the romance needs a conflict so the author conjures up ridiculous and ultimately pointless arguments. Luckily, this is not the case in This Is What Happy Looks Like. Their relationship isn’t perfect and there are obstacles to overcome, but they are realistic and subtle and there’s nothing annoyingly small and petty keeping the two apart. There is kind of an annoying, petty argument between Ellie and her best friend, but it was a side plot so it didn’t bother me that much.
Graham was a fabulous love interesting! He’s a movie star, but he’s actually a very sweet and down-to-Earth guy. He’s extremely selfless and I love how obvious it is that he listens to Ellie and remembers what he says.. like the way he references some of their e-mails from months ago and remembers every detail. It’s so obvious that he cares about Ellie and he isn’t caught up with his image or public appearances.
Although there are a couple bigger issues in This Is What Happy Looks Like (like with Ellie’s father), this is ultimately a fun, light, flirty summer read. It’s perfect if you just want to kick back and read about a sweet summer romance without too much emotional baggage.
I think the main thing I wasn’t crazy about was the ending. It was a sweet ending, but it was also pretty open ended (not all that different from The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight I suppose). We aren’t given a very clear idea of where the relationship is heading from there. View Spoiler » [It’s hinted that they continue with a long distance relationship, but I feel like there are so many unanswered questions. As someone who has been in a long distance relationship for years, I know the road isn’t easy and a lot can happen, so I think I was just a little unsatisfied with the uncertainty of that. But at least it did end on a pretty positive and hopeful note. « Hide Spoiler]
I think the general consensus is that This Is What Happy Looks Like isn’t quite as powerful as The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, and I guess I do agree with that. But at 4 stars and 4.5 stars, it’s obvious that I really enjoyed both books. They’re both fun, romantic, and sweet, and this one in particular is a great summer read!