Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Release Date ~ April 2, 2013
Poppy ~ Hachette Book Group
ISBN13: 9780316212823
ARC received from HBG Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
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? 

Sometimes you just need a happy book, one that will pick you up off the ground and set your feet on the ground again. I read This Is What Happy Looks Like while studying for my final law school exams. You know what? No regrets. I wanted a book that would cheer me up, and give me an added jolt of courage.

Jennifer E. Smith's newest book delivered exactly that. Just like there is comfort food, there are comfort books. I began reading this book with that expectation, and I wasn't disappointed. Plus, I really love the movie You've Got Mail which this novel was compared to, so I had to give it a shot!

  1. Romance in its simplest form:

    The love story isn't an overly complicated one, flush with frustrations and problems. It can seem like a number of YA books include more forbidden romance, so this was a welcome change for me from what I typically read. There's something fresh about this simplicity, and I loved that Ellie and Graham were able to recognize this, too.
  2. So much more than a love story:

    For me, a good romance is just one part of the overall story. I think this is especially true in contemporary books, because too often it seems to me that they focus on the romance and pay very little attention to anything else. The problem with that is that there is the potential to explore so many other ideas, and I love that Jennifer is an author who acknowledges this and incorporates it into her writing. The relationship between Ellie and Graham is incredibly important (and sweet!), but there's so much more to their lives than each other that it was integral to the story that their individual lives be explored as well.
  3. Quirky, fun characters:

    I loved this SO much. Characters need to stand out to me- from each other, from the setting, and from OTHER characters in OTHER books. Graham and Ellie both have their own unique traits, totally uncommon but real enough for them to be believable characters. Their struggles are honest and completely plausible, but they're still unique people. That's a tricky balance to accomplish, but it's successful here.
By the time I finished reading, however, I couldn't help feeling that it was a bit anti-climatic. The hardcover is over 400 pages, but it still felt short somehow. I think that can be attributed to the ease of reading it, while not having too much actually happen.

I also think it helps to go into this book, knowing that you shouldn't expect anything extraordinary but instead more of a quick, sweet read. Because that's exactly what makes it so enjoyable!


Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

I just thought this was an adorable and fun book, I didn't really go in expecting too much, I just wanted something cute. I found myself smiling a lot while reading just because everything was so cute!

Julie said...

Ah! I need to read this book. I need a cute romance to wind down from finals. :) Great review!

Unknown said...

Brenna, I am so happy you were able to give this one a positive review. The author's stories seem so delightful! It makes me happy to see love represented in a simple way, instead of always about triangles and drama and problems!

ChristasBooks said...

This was a super cute read and would definitely be a good pick me up but I agree it was a little anti climatic. I liked Statistical Probability better but still really enjoyed this one.

Unknown said...

I still need to read Statistical Probability (it's on my e-reader!) but this one is on my to read list as well! It sounds like a great book, and your comments about what you need to get from characters is so bang on true for me. I know what you mean about forbidden romances in YA - sometimes it is refreshing to have a "simple" romance, haha!

Glad this one took your mind off the stress of law school for a little while!

Anonymous said...

I adored This Is What Happy Looks Like, mostly because I was expecting a hugely depressing novel from the title and was pleasantly surprised. It was just such a cute read, and I completely agree, sometimes you really need a fluffy, happy book. (This is the part where I'll confess I've never seen You've Got Mail...) I really enjoyed the simplicity of the love story as well, and I love that the family relationships amidst both their circumstances was explored as well. Graham and Ellie really were believable characters, and I liked them both a lot. But I also agree, there was something missing from the latter half of the book. I kept waiting for something huge to happen, and suddenly... all of their obstacles just... faded away.

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