Tuesday, April 9, 2013
This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Release Date: April 2, 2013
If fate sent you an email, would you answer?
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? (courtesy of Goodreads)
Jennifer E. Smith is becoming known for two things: (1) light, satisfying contemporary YA romances and (2) novels with really long titles. This Is What Happy Looks Like is indeed a good illustration of "happy." The world looks like a happier place after reading this book. You'll have a spring in your step.
This Is What Happy Looks Like is yet another version of a beloved plot: regular girl meets big time movie star. Movie star falls in love with said girl. It's a plot that, no matter how many times it's done, I almost always enjoy. Somehow Jennifer managed to make the story arc feel original - or if not original, fun enough that you don't care.
Ellie and Graham are both nice people. Nice is such a blasé word, but it's really the best way to describe the characters. Ellie in particular is simply nice. She doesn't have a describable personality. She's not a firecracker, she's not shy, she's not mean, she's not vivacious. She's a regular teenage girl who can be a little bit of all of these qualities. By not having an overriding personality trait, Ellie felt more real to me than many other protagonists.
Graham is also best characterized as nice, but his personality stuck out to me more. He's passionate about acting, he's funny in a gentle way, he's bookish, he's sad. Graham's sadness over his loss of freedom and his estrangement from his parents struck me more than anything else about him. I really liked Graham. He stands out from many other YA male love interests by being sweet in an unassuming, boyish manner.
The book is told in alternating points of view of Ellie and Graham, a writing technique that I increasingly like. It allows me to get to know both characters better. At the start of each chapter are emails between the characters, which is how Ellie and Graham's relationship began. Kind of like Seinfeld, these email chats are often about nothing. They are more cutesy that witty...in a good way. It was occasionally hard to follow who wrote which email or on what day it was written, because my eyes automatically skipped the To, From, and Date portions of the email.
Is This Is What Happy Looks Like as good as The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight? No. I can't really describe why. I've read other reviews that were disappointed in this book, because it approached the precipice of excellence but didn't quite make it. I was quite satisfied with the book's fun simplicity, but that was partially because I went into it with low expectations. There's just something missing that keeps this book from being really special. Regardless, it's a lovable romance and I'd recommend putting it on your shelf for a cheering up kind of day.