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

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

Shelved: Young adult fiction (contemporary, romance)
Rating: ★★★★
Buy: The Book Depository
More: Goodreads

I read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight early last year and was a little enamoured with it so when I saw This is What Happy Looks Like, I added it to my Goodreads shelf before I even knew what it was about. I finally picked it up, spurred on by the lovely weather we had been having (because sunny weather is always the perfect time to read YA contemporary romance), and I was surprised, and a little apprehensive, to discover that one of the main characters – the male love interest no less – was a film star. I thought, ‘This isn’t how it is meant to go! He’s meant to be an ordinary boy!’. But I need not have worried. Graham is very much a normal boy, who just happens to have an extraordinary career, loves sherbet ice cream and spending a whole day reading books.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. This is What Happy Looks Like begins when Graham Larkin, international film star, accidentally misses a character from the end of an email address, instead sending a message about Wilbur, his pet pig, to fellow teenager Ellie O’Neill across the other side of the country.

This is What Happy Looks Like is an adorable novel, but it also taps into the serious side of teenage life. Ellie and Graham’s lives are not perfect: Ellie cannot afford the education she craves to receive, and the backstory of her elusive Dad will surprise you. Graham is extremely lonely, constantly hounded by paparazzi, and his own family do not know how to act around him any more… ‘This is What Happy Looks Like’ refers to more than the inevitable romance – to what both Ellie and Graham really want from the rest of their lives, whether together or apart. Yet their relationship is a joy to read about and it develops quickly, although not instantly. There is a mixture of wariness and curiosity, shyness and attraction. It started with honest and funny emails, which luckily we’re subjected to throughout the book, but isn’t quite so easy once they eventually meet.

This is What Happy Looks Like is a wonderful novel to begin your summer with. And not forgetting that it is set in Maine! Henley is painted as the sort of close-knit town that city people like myself love to imagine they grow up in, like Gilmore Girls‘ Stars Hollow. Jennifer E. Smith’s latest novel is a witty romance, told in third person narrative, that’ll make you wonder, what does happiness look like?

Published: 2nd April 2013 (US) 4th April 2013 (UK)
Publisher: Poppy (US) Headline (UK)
Pages: 416
Source: Thank you Headline for providing this book to review!
If you liked: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

7 thoughts on “Book Review: This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

  1. I’m quite reluctant to pick this one up because I didn’t enjoy The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. But the cover of this one is adorable and the storyline seems promising, but I don’t know. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Jennifer E. Smith’s writing. I might just wait and pick it up from the library.

    • I think I ‘preferred’ The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, but it’s hard to say. They’re both different, but very similar in ways.

  2. I like the idea, and I’m guessing Ellie doesn’t know who Graham is (different email address or something)? I didn’t read Smith’s other book, but I’ll have to read the summary for it now because this one sounds sweet.

  3. I love the book. And how Ellie didn’t fall for Graham right away after knowing the boy she’s been emailing those past few months was a star was also a plus point. And nice ending! :)

  4. […] “This is What Happy Looks Like is an adorable novel, but it also taps into the serious side of teenage life. … [A] wonderful novel to begin your summer with.” The Pretty Books […]

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