Book Reviews

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

15790873[1]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? (Goodreads Synopsis)

This Is What (A Happy Reader) Looks Like:

*relieved that the male lead is kind, funny and thoughtful with moments of being the “white knight” without being unrealistic

*pleased that the female lead is strong, intelligent and “the girl next door”

*impressed with the idea of taking a clichéd storyline and making it unique and refreshing

*thankful that the mix-ups and misunderstandings are quickly resolved and not dragged out

*grinning from ear to ear with all the sweet and clever banter between the love interests

*emotional but not drained from the dramatic elements

*hopeful of the ending that leaves you wanting more and given the ability to create your own epilogue

There are so many wonderful moments of humor and banter between Graham and Ellie, but just as many insightful and caring scenes that you feel yourself swooning and pleasantly happy while reading. There is a maturity about the two of them that as a mother, make you hopeful that your kids will find someone as special and trustworthy of their feelings at an age dominated by angst and heartbreak.

“How can you know it makes you happy if you’ve never experienced it?” “There are different kinds of happy,” she said. “Some kinds don’t need any proof.”

The relationships that Ellie and Graham have with their parents are very similar even though they have completely different lifestyles. Graham is a famous actor who gets followed everywhere and not much in the way of privacy. He loves his career but misses some of the anonymity that goes with being a “regular person”. The author makes you feel saddened for his loss and angry toward the awful media who stalk his every move. His parents prefer to not get caught up in that lifestyle and remain simple folk watching their son from a  distance. Ellie’s mother also chooses to be private (to Ellie’s dismay) and that secret is revealed later in the story. I loved the quote about your relationship with your parents and the bond you have regardless of the circumstances in life.

“No matter how long it’s been or how far you’ve drifted, no matter how unknowable you might be, there were at least two people in the world whose job it was to see you, to find you, to recognize you and reel you back in. No matter what.”

Another relationship that was endearing and honest was the lifelong friendship between Ellie and her best friend Quinn. Their scenes together are brief but they are so close and understanding of one another that you don’t need much written to understand that. They have typical teenage disagreements but nothing catty or hurtful. I loved that.

“It was a bit like taffy, this friendship of theirs; you could stretch and pull and bend it all out of shape, but it was no easy thing to break it entirely.”

This is the second book I have read by Jennifer E. Smith and felt the same way I did after reading The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight…extremely happy. Yes, that word seems redundant with the title and all, but she just has the innate ability to write such wonderful stories that make you feel like you’ve spent hours watching a Meg Ryan movie circa 1990. And those were pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself.

Amazon       Barnes & Noble

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