This is What Happy Looks Like
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Number of Pages: 416
Release Date: April 2, 2013
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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?
This is What Happy Looks Like. So much so that I dove into it way ahead of my "reading schedule" and while I was still in the middle of a handful of other books I should have finished first. That adorable cover (seriously, I love that cover) and the synopsis promised a cute, contemporary romance and I'm happy to say that it delivered. I really enjoyed This is What Happy Looks Like.
The story follows the Ellie O'Neill, a normal American girl, and Graham Larkin, teen heartthrob/movie star, both 17. The two "meet" when Graham accidentally emails Ellie about his pet pig (he is trying to email the person looking after said pig) and the two spark up a friendship when they continue to email each other, although Graham never tells her who he really is. When the location for his next movie falls through (seaside NC) Graham suggests Ellie's hometown of seaside Maine with the hopes of meeting her.
Things I liked:
* Ellie--I really liked Ellie. She's funny and smart and she's just a real girl who fights with her best friend and mom, who has some father issues, and who worries about money.
* Graham--who doesn't like a cute movie star? I liked that his character wasn't one-dimensional. He misses his parents and wants to make a good impression on the girl he can't stop thinking about.
* The realistic relationships--all of the relationships in this book were very realistic. Ellie and her mom, especially, felt very real. I loved that her mom was actually present and involved in her daughter's life. She gave some bad advice...as moms do, but she truly cared about her daughter, was involved in her life, wanted to know where she was and who she was with, etc. She has a real reason for wanting to keep Ellie out of the spotlight, which means trying to keep her away from Graham.
*Ellie's friendship with her best friend, Quinn, was also very realistic. I can clearly remember fighting with my best friend in high school and the dread that came with it.
* The romance--oh, the romance. The premise of an actor falling for a regular girl has been done before, but I couldn't help but be completely charmed by this story. Ellie and Graham were just so darn cute.
* The setting--I loved the setting of a small, seaside Maine town. The whole book screamed summer. From Ellie's job at an ice-cream parlor to the descriptions of the sailboats on the water to the preparations for the town's 4-of-July blowout. Reading this in the middle of (yet another) dreary, grey Northeastern winter made me positively yearn for summer.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was just one of those perfect summer romances that makes you feel the sun on your shoulders and smell the ocean breeze. It's light and happy and a joy to read. Highly recommend if you are looking for a breezy YA book.
*I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.*