Publisher: Hachette Australia
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
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.
“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.
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