Monday, November 25, 2013

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

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith
Series: Standalone 
Published: April 2nd, 2013
Publisher: Poppy
416 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Contemporary young adult
Acquired this book: From the library
Warning: May contain spoilers
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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?


I read and loved The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight last year, and couldn’t wait to get my hands on This is What Happy Looks Like. Jennifer E Smith has a knack for writing sweet romances that should seem almost unbelievable, but feel genuine, and make you believe in things like love at first sight, fate, possibilities, and overcoming obstacles.

I’d read several ‘meh’ books in a row before picking up This is What Happy Looks Like; I was hoping for something light, funny, and not too deep, and that’s what I got. This book is like a fairy tale for the 21st century - boy and girl meet by accident via email, boy turns out to be a famous actor who comes to girl’s town to shoot a movie, they meet in person and…well nothing after that is exactly simple.

When I was Ellie’s age I dreamed endlessly about meeting and falling in love with my favourite celebrities, and I know I’m not alone. This is What Happy Looks Like is like most teenage girls’ fantasy come to life in the pages of a book. It wasn’t necessarily believable, but that didn’t matter - it was one of those books where you can set aside reality for a while and imagine the possibilities. I haven’t been a teenage for a long time, but this book definitely touched my inner teen and made her sigh wistfully.

I loved the email exchanges between the two at the beginning of the book and then the beginning of each chapter. They were sweet and often had me laughing out loud. I liked the alternating POV throughout the book - I felt like I really got to know these characters. And despite the premise of the book being kind of fanciful, there were plenty of real life issues thrown in - fights with friends, problems with parents, uncertainty over the future. Through Graham we got to see that being a celebrity isn’t all glitz and glam - there’s very little privacy, most people only see you as a celebrity and not a real person, and you have to deal with people (agents, directors, etc) ‘handling’ you and other people constantly judging you - and through Ellie we got to see a girl struggling to make her dreams come true.

This is What Happy Looks Like is an enchanting story that came to life on the pages just like my favourite romantic comedies come to life on the screen. It’s cute, funny, and touching, and a must-read for fans of contemporary young adult romance. 

Have you read This is What Happy Looks Like? What did you think? Who were some of your celebrity crushes as a teen? How do you think you would have reacted if you'd actually met - or even dated - them? 


  1. Sounds like it was a lot of fun to read. :) Looking forward to diving into it myself. I started "Halfway to the Grave" and had to jump into the next Night Huntress book (I suck at these titles; they don't like me) after THAT ending. Now I'm all in a Christmas mood, so I'll be going that route once this book is done. (I'm about 70% through.) I will get to 'Happy' though. It's on my shelf.

  2. I really want to read these. They do sound like good, light reads. Haha - I was crushing on Kirk Cameron and NKOTB as a kid. Then moved on to Brad Pitt and Jeff Goldbulm (don't ask) as a teen.

  3. Yessss! I really loved this one -- and you're right, it's just like a romantic comedy that I love to watch. I couldn't get enough! I'm so happy you loved it! :)


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