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

April 25, 2013

This Is What Happy Looks LikeTitle: This is What Happy Looks Like
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publication Date: 2 April, 2013
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4.5/ 5 stars
Amazon | Goodreads

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?

THIS is what fantastic looks like, people! (yes, I know it sounds cliche, copying the title, but I just couldn't help it!) Take a nice, long look at it. I have a feeling it's going to be around for sometime.
The prologue contains that first fateful email from Graham. And a glimpse of the volley of mails that go back and forth. This one was really one of the best prologues I've ever read. Not because it was very profound or something. No, just for the simple reason that you can really feel the anticipation, the excitement and expectation that Ellie feels. Remember your first ever crush? Your first ever conversation with them? Yeah, it'll take you back to that time. I was grinning the whole while.

Graham Larkin is the kind of actor the public loves - he was just another ordinary kid before he was 'discovered'. He thought it would be fun to act in a school play, and then, BOOM! Next thing he knows he's the lead actor in a movie franchise, and life has changed completely. He's rich, he lives in a humungous house, has a pet pig named Wilbur, and life couldn't get better. On the surface.

Underneath it, he hates the intrusion of the paparazzi, the emptiness of his house, his lack of true friends and the fact that his family treats him like an honoured guest if he comes home. So when an email to Wilbur's walker goes to the wrong id, and he hits it off with '', he grabs at the chance to know someone who does not look at him with a halo on his head.

When they start looking for a location to film Graham's latest film, Henley, Maine, comes to his mind, not only because it's perfect for the small town feel of the movie, but also because Ellie lives there.

Ellie, I think, was one of the most mature characters I've ever read. She has a wonderful relationship with her mother. They share a great rapport, and she's very thoughtful where her Mum's concerned; even though they're not exactly rich, she pulls her own weight, and tries to come up with a way to pay her way through a summer poetry course at Harvard (she loves poetry, people! And quotes! Yay!).

Even when she finds out the truth about Graham, she doesn't go gaga over him. Graham is an ordinary guy at heart, thoughtful, romantic, and with all the nervousness that comes with talking to the girl you like. There is definitely some (a lot) embarrassment and doubt (on Ellie's part), but eventually, they figure it out.  But even then, there are several factors that keep them apart, the least of which is the paparazzi. And when things go downhill (like stranded-in-the-middle-of-the-sea downhill), I love how she handles it, even with some humour, and refuses to fall apart.

The small town setting was very believable - a quaint little place, where everyone knows everyone, and there are quiet, unpolluted places to slip away to. I wonder what it would be like to live in a small town. I've only ever lived in the city, so I dont know.

I had some issues with the ending, as there were a few things which I wished had been resolved, but other than that, it's great! I haven't read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight yet, but after this, I think I will.

Bottomline: This is What Happy Looks Like is a light read, perfect for a beach read, both light hearted and emotional. Kind of reminded me of The Prince & Me.

P.S.: Just out of curiosity, but what does your happy look like? Let me know in the comments! :)


  1. Ooh. Statistical Probability is very cute, you should read it xD I didn't LOVE it but I liked it (statistical probability, I mean). This book looks like a cute read too!

    My happy is food, books and more food xD

    1. Yeah, I've heard a lot about it! And lol, my happy's pretty much the same :D


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