This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Release: 4th April 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Received in exchange for an honest review from the publishers
This is What Happy Looks Like follows the story of Ellie and Graham. For months they have been anonymously corresponding over email after Graham accidently sends Ellie an email about the welfare of his pet pig, Wilbur. Not knowing each other’s identity allows these two teens with secrets to open up to one another and so they form an unlikely friendship. But when Graham decides he wants to meet Ellie, and possibly take their friendship further, their easy natural relationship becomes strained when Graham is revealed to be the latest movie star heartthrob and Ellie is a girl with a past that she would do anything to keep out of the spotlight – even if it means losing Graham.
I was actually really surprised when I started reading this book. I expected it to be a teen version of the movie ‘You’ve Got Mail’ with the couple corresponding, falling for the online version, loathing the real life person, only to find out at the end that the two are one and the same. So I was surprised when things took a different turn and Ellie and Graham figured out who the other was pretty quickly. Instead their budding romance faces other obstacles. Most teenage girls dream of dating the latest teen Hollywood star but Ellie – who loves the Graham away from the camera- needs to keep their involvement hidden due to a buried family secret that can’t come out.
Graham and Ellie were two really great characters. Graham is a young rising star and is finding that the lifestyle of the rich and famous isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Graham was a really down to earth, funny, easy going guy and I could understand his attraction to Ellie - a girl who knows him and fell for him for who he is inside without the celebrity status. Ellie is a girl with a good head on her shoulders. It’s just her and her mom so money is always an issue so Ellie works hard towards a brighter future. Ellie was a really admirable, clever girl who I had a lot of respect for.
Unfortunately despite loving both characters separately the romance was very slow simmering in my opinion. There were some cute scenes like the hunt for a whoopie pie and their funny emails but for me that chemistry wasn’t there, I just couldn’t feel it. I think that’s probably down to the amount of time this couple spent apart and the emails (which I loved) fizzled out as the book went on. I LOVED their emails; they were actually my favourite thing about this book. I loved their conversations about Wilbur the pig and what their happy looks like. All the online chemistry was there but when they were face to face it felt like we lost some of that adorable banter. For a book like this the romance is key so I was disappointed that their chemistry fell flat.
Overall This is What Happy Looks Like was a really cute, fun, summery read. But unfortunately it lacked that sparkle that Smith’s debut ‘The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight’ had. Happy Looks Like is a sweet and satisfying read whilst it lasts but I can’t say there was anything about it that left a lasting impression.
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