By: Melanie | September 16, 2013 | (26) Comments

Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. SmithThis Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Pages: 416
Source: Bought it
Goodreads | Purchase
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.

My Review

“Maybe growing up was really nothing more than growing away: from your old life, from your old self, from all those things that kept you tethered to your past.”

What does happy look like? For me, happy looks like reading good books. I wasn’t exactly the happiest person when I finished this novel. But that’s not to claim that Jennifer’s latest was a complete disaster, I would just put it as mildly interesting and cute. I think I would’ve rated this differently if I was in a different mood. Maybe something way harsher, because in reality, there wasn’t anything too outstanding about this novel apart from a few points. However I never try to change a rating if I read it more than 3 days ago (it’s something to do with my OCD-ness).

Graham and Ellie’s friendship begins with an email about a pig named Wilbur and a wrong email address. Graham is a movie star; middle of everywhere Los Angeles and Ellie, a plain girl from middle of nowhere, Maine. Yet Ellie doesn’t know that who she’s talking to is a movie star, but she’s about to find out when he shows up in Maine, filming a set of his upcoming movie.

The characters of Jennifer’s novel are relatively amiable. Our main character, Ellie was full of hope and dreams that may never come true due to her family’s economic issues, but her maintaining positivity during the majority of the time made me like Ellie even more. Nevertheless, there were times where she became way too weepy. My other small qualm was her dramatic-ness and how sensitive she became with the slightest of issues, like thinking of what the public would think of Graham and her. As for Graham, I loved him. His light humour kept me absorbed throughout the novel and his belief in impossible becoming possible was touching. Unlike what I suspected, Graham did not hold some I-too-good-for-you attitude compared to other cast members of This Is What Happy Looks Like.

These to practically polar opposites turned out to be an unconvincing couple. While their relationship had been building over such a long time over emails, it just didn’t sell it for me when they finally met in real person. It was like instant love in an indirect way. Like it was cheating me. From what I gather, Graham and Ellie only really spent less than a week together and their love was rather strong. Sure, this novel went over a longer time but time that they actually spent together was low. For me, this chemistry was not selling it to me, unfortunately. Furthermore, I’d like to point out the lack of actual plot in This Is What Happy Looks Like. There’s just drama, romance, family-issues but not much else for such a hefty book. I must admittedly say that I was looking for more. More depth, more motion and more intricacy.

This Is What Happy Looks Like is a cute summer read that lacks a little complication but is satisfying all the same.


3 Stars
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Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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

  1. Ah this sounds like a cute, fun read but not a stand out one. Great review hun!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Tidal by Emily Snow Review: A quick, sexy fun readMy Profile

  2. Tanja says:

    I used to enjoy Jennifer’s books until all started to seem the same. Yes I know that she creates likable characters but at the same time the plot it mostly predictable and it always leaves you with wanting more. This one sounds like that. I’m glad you enjoyed it overall. Great review 🙂
    Tanja recently posted…Twisted by Laurie Halse AndersonMy Profile

  3. Fabulous review, Melanie! I was a huge fan of Smith’s Probability of Love At First Sight so I am really keen on beginning this one. Great to see that you liked this overall!

  4. Amelia says:

    I’m not a huge fan of instant love that’s indirect- ill most likely pass on this one but thanks for the brilliant and honest review!

  5. Kezia D says:

    I recently finished Smith’s TSPOLAFS and I really enjoyed it! Probably that was the right book I need to entertain me in the midst of homework and exams! I am pretty sure I will enjoy this right now. Thanks for the review, Melanie <3
    Kezia D recently posted…[Review] The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. SmithMy Profile

  6. Jenni says:

    So happy to not be the only one that this didn’t work very well for. I didn’t buy the romance at all either and it just felt like it went on and on and on and on and on and on!

  7. Celine says:

    This sounds really cute, but like the kind of book you need to be in the mood for.

    Great review, Mel! <3
    Celine recently posted…DNF Review: Hereafter by Tara HudsonMy Profile

  8. I agree with you — happiness looks like reading good books… as well as getting a huge stack of books in the mail/from a trip to the bookstore! Too bad this book wasn’t too outstanding, though. I’ve seen some pretty positive reviews for it, so yours was refreshing to read. 🙂

    Ellie sounds like a really suitable protagonist for the book, if a bit dramatic. Though if I were dating a MOVIE STAR (like Logan Lerman?!), I think I would feel pretty self-conscious too. Then again, maybe it’s just me, because I’ve always been the shy, keep-to-myself-a-lot kind of person, so I wouldn’t really want to attract much attention. Still, she does sound a bit bland. But GRAHAM. He sounds like a really swoony love interest. 😉

    It was like instant love in an indirect way. Like it was cheating me.” – Yeah, I totally get how you feel. I’ve read books like that (can’t remember the titles now), and let me tell you, it was annoying as hell. Great review, Mel! I’m less inclined to read this, though I was never THAT interested in it anyways, heh.

  9. I wanted to buy this one earlier last month, because it looked really cute, like you said, but I think I won’t be reading it unless it comes to my library because the indirect insta-love sounds like, even if Jennifer was trying to write it so it didn’t seem that way, it came off as something that would bother me. I also don’t know how I would feel about there being basically no plot in the book D: I’m sorry you didn’t love this one or find many positive points about it.

    Fantastic review, Melanie! <33
    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted…This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila SalesMy Profile

  10. Giselle says:

    I really enjoyed this one but I read it because I knew it would be a more fluffy read, nothing too deep or profound so’s why I liked it more. It was a fun, fairy-tail-ish read but yeah if you want something deeper Jennifer Smith is not who you turn to 🙂
    Giselle recently posted…Review: A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron – Blog Hop, Day 6My Profile

  11. This sounds really cute! I’m glad you liked it enough. The simplicity would be good when I feel like a quick read, so I may give this one a shot in the future. Great review 😉
    Becca @ Nawanda Files recently posted…ARC Review: Resist by Sarah CrossanMy Profile

  12. I’m sorry this wasn’t a winner for you – it sounds like a cute book, but I think your problems with it would be the same for me. I’d want a bit more of a plot too.
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Review: Dangerous Girls by Abigail HaasMy Profile

  13. Candace says:

    For me this was a light summery read and I wasn’t expecting depth. I was pretty happy with it and didn’t have any real complaints. I guess it delivered what I expected as well as what I wanted at the time. I do think mood has a lot to do with it. I’m sorry this one didn’t work better for you though.
    Candace recently posted…Young Adult Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry ThomasMy Profile

  14. Alise says:

    Interesting thoughts on this one, I gave it a four and just thought it was missing that extra pizazz that made it great but I definitely agree with the points you made about the romance. I know if I met someone in person that I had been talking to online I would be like O.O and it would be awkward, NOT love.
    Alise recently posted…ARC Review: Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley CoriellMy Profile

  15. The Statistical Probability was a huge disappointment for me so I was never even tempted to read this, to be honest, and all the reviews I read pretty much confirm my opinion. It bothers me that Smith approaches some very important subjects pretty lightly and she tends to make huge issues go away with a single conversation.
    Thanks for the lovely and honest review. 🙂
    Maja (The Nocturnal Library) recently posted…Review: Find MeMy Profile

  16. Sometimes after a big build-up, it can definitely feel like a bit of a let down when the two characters finally meet/kiss/get together or whatever. I think a lot of books shortchange us in this way, actually–I felt similarly slightly disappointed at the end of a lot of contemporary romances that I like because of that.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden
    Wendy Darling recently posted…Fiona Wood on Girls, Sex, and WildlifeMy Profile

  17. Stephanie B says:

    Aw, this sounds like a cute summer read. Light and fluffy. Great review, Mel.
    Stephanie B recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Autumn Must-ReadsMy Profile

  18. Inky says:

    I’m sad this didn’t blow you away. It looks SUPER cute and I totally want to get my hands on it, since I’m in this huge contemporary(ish) kick right now! Love the review Melanie!!

    <333 Inky

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  20. Annie says:

    I hope I’m less disappointed (it’s already on my shelf) but I can’t say I’m too surprised by your review. The other book I’ve read by Jennifer (about 2 teens who meet in an airport on their way to London) inspired similar sentiments in me – I wanted to see “more depth and emotion” etc. 🙁
    Annie recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday: Sweet by Erin McCarthyMy Profile

  21. This was a great, fun read. If you’re looking for a fun, clean, romantic YA read–this has a bit of it all, with a surprising storyline that you haven’t quite seen before. I really enjoyed it! It’s too cute.

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