This Is What Happy Looks Like: A Book Review


This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Summary: 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?

{kindly taken from Amazon}

My Thoughts: I really love a strong contemporary, {have you not heard me rave about Morgan Matson’s books?} but I haven’t found one that I’ve truly fallen in love with in the past couple of months. The past novels were all good, but nothing outstanding. However, This is What Happy Looks Like was quite the opposite, and I can happily say that it is one of my favorite books of 2013 thus far! :)

Graham and Ellie are complete strangers, until one day, Graham accidentally sends an email to Ellie. They find pleasure in chatting with another, and the amount of email sent between them starts to add up. When Graham is given the chance to shoot his movie where Ellie lives, he jumps at the chance – all just to finally meet her in person. This storyline is so out-of-the-blue, but for some reason, it all worked together. I mean, was I expecting everything to happen? {and believe me, there are some major plot twists} Not at all, but Jennifer E. Smith was able to tie together all of the different scenes to create an adorable love story. The writing was really strong, and Smith’s whimsical tone really shone through. Her vivid descriptions of Ellie’s hometown in Maine made my heart ache for summer. Finally, I loved how the entire prologue was set up in Ellie and Graham’s emails. What a fun way to grab the attention of the reader!

Graham and Ellie were both very strong protagonists. Usually in the case of having a romance, I find myself favoring one character over the other, but I was strangely happy to read about either of the two in this one. The author did a fabulous job slowly revealing their pasts. I think that their thought-out and well-explained childhoods really added to their development in the present story. I could easily see why Ellie was so confused about her father, or why Graham was so hesitant around just about everybody. The supporting characters also added to the story, which was a nice change of pace for myself :) My favorite was Devon. He was a bit like a lost puppy! It was so sweet how he tried to help out Quinn, Ellie’s best friend, and Ellie at the same time.

Overall, This is What Happy Looks Like pleasantly surprised me. I wasn’t expecting to get so attached to the characters and the story, but the author’s writing really drew me in. It’s definitely made my list of books to buy this year.

Pros: Strong writing and developed characters.

Cons: The book was over 400 pages, which isn’t a HUGE concern, but I thought I would mention it! Long books can sometimes scare people away, but trust me, this is worth it!

Heads Up: Romance, but nothing major.

Overall: I give it 5 stars {*****} and I recommend it for ages 13 and up.

If you would like to read my review of Jennifer E. Smith’s other book, click here.

Have a lovely rest of your Sunday!

10 thoughts on “This Is What Happy Looks Like: A Book Review

  1. I saw this book at a book sale this past weekend and almost picked it up. But the storyline seemed a little far-fetched to me (a pet pig, really?) so I put it back down. After your review, I kinda wish I had given it a chance.


  2. I’m so happy to see your 5-star review! I own a copy of this book but haven’t gotten a chance to read it yet. I’ll have to bump it up the TBR. It sounds like such a fun spring read.


  3. […] This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith // This would have to be one of my favorite YA romance novels, by far. It was just what I needed for my summer kick-off in early May, and I think it is deserving of a re-read later in 2014. I know it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but any fan of realistic fiction is bound to enjoy it in some way! […]


  4. […] This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith | I love Smith’s books {I’m in the process of The Geography of You and Me}, but if I had to choose a favorite as of this moment, it would definitely be the forever adorable This is What Happy Looks Like. I challenge you not to smile during this book; it’s impossible, believe me! […]


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