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This Is What Happy Looks Like #1

This Is What Happy Looks Like

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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?

404 pages, Hardcover

First published April 2, 2013

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About the author

Jennifer E. Smith

19 books7,308 followers
Jennifer E. Smith is the author of nine books for young adults, including The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between, both of which were recently adapted for film. She earned her master's degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and her writing has been translated into 33 languages. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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5 stars
11,795 (23%)
4 stars
17,198 (34%)
3 stars
15,358 (30%)
2 stars
4,549 (9%)
1 star
1,331 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,160 reviews
Profile Image for Zoë.
328 reviews66.2k followers
April 29, 2016
Sadly, this book wasn't for me. Actually, now that I think about it, I don't think Jennifer E. Smith's writing in general is for me as I didn't enjoy The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight either (although I did like it more than this one).
Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate TIWHLL. I really enjoyed the first third of it and was getting invested in the characters and plot, but then it just fizzled out. There really wasn't a plot driving the story forwards and I didn't feel any chemistry between Ellie and Graham. All of the plot twists which I was expecting, solved themselves quite easily or were super anticlimactic.
I felt like this had so much promise, the plot was cute and you could tell she had thought through a lot of backstory for these characters, but I was left feeling very unsatisfied and a bored. This doesn't have true instalove, as Ellie and Graham had been emailing for months, but they get together right at the beginning, with no build up to their romance. Romance is the best part, though! That's why I'm reading a contemporary romance book! I want to giggle as they fumble over their words and discreetly flirt with one another, working up the courage to tell each other their true feelings. However, I didn't get any of that and I felt cheated. We are told rather than shown a lot of the character's feelings, like they "had thinly veiled flirtation" via email, but we aren't given any of this. We are only given the first couple of emails and a few sporadic ones here and there, but none that gave me a sense of any true feelings being established for one another.
Basically, I am feeling weirdly cheated by this story because I had such high expectations for it and it fell flat. Also, I just finished Morgan Matson's new book, The Unexpected Everything, so it would be hard for any book to compare. I don't think I am going to read any of her other novels in the future since I haven't had any luck with the two I've read so far. However, please don't let me stop you from reading this! This is my own opinion and I'm not trying to force anyone else to agree with me, just sharing it to all of you interested.
Profile Image for Debby.
583 reviews540 followers
April 16, 2021
2 stars

As a true hopeless romantic, the "normal girl meets and falls in love with a famous boy" story makes my heart flutter. No matter how cliché, I really enjoy reading stories like it. And yet... This Is What Happy Looks Like is just lackluster in everything. This review will contain spoilers. Beware. I just can't review this book without pointing out the idiotic plot points.

So Ellie and Graham meet by accident when Graham misspells an e-mail address. They don't know who the other is, but they seem to really easily strike up conversations about almost nothing. So Graham, a famous movie star, when in need of a location to shoot his next film, insists on traveling to Ellie's home town to meet her. After a first cliché mishap of mistaken identity, they meet and instantly know this is true love.

Okay, they talked for three months via e-mails, so it's not really instalove, but it felt like it. I just feel so cheated. Maybe it's because I have experience with situations like this, but online contact is vastly different from offline contact. And even if you really like someone online, that's not necessarily the case offline. But no. They knew it INSTANTLY. He wanted to kiss her INSTANTLY. And just... UGH. What is this??

And the rest of the book only makes it worse. Why? They were together for all of two days, before Ellie freaked out about the paparazzi shizzle and started avoiding him like the plague. For THREE WEEKS. And during that time, all they do is pine for each other. Then when they're finally reunited, you once again see them together for only THREE DAYS. Guys, this isn't a heart-throbbing romance. This is just odd. They're pretty cute together, for sure, but I don't buy it. Whereas I think the concept asked for a happy-go-lucky, totally feel-good kind of romance, I think Jennifer placed way too much emphasis on the underlying "drama" in both of their lives that just made the romance kind of stupid.

Like, Ellie is terrified of the paparazzi because she is the illegitimate daughter of a senator. Her mother ran away with her as a child to escape the press and it's basically implied that all hell would break loose if their true identities were discovered. Well, spoiler alert: it gets out, right at the end. You feel that coming, but still have a certain curiosity about how it would get resolved. Well? "Yeah, they found out your name, and the connection to your father, but it's really just a footnote, and nobody really cares because all they care about is that you're Graham's girlfriend."

No no no no no. And don't get me started again about how the press calls her his girlfriend, he refers to her as "his girl" and everyone else in town knows they're in LOVE when they've known each other for FIVE DAYS in total. I don't count those three weeks they weren't speaking, and I don't (really) count the three months of email conversations. Hell no. asdfjkl; Their romance consisted of like 3 kisses and a bit of hand holding. Some more development would have been amazing. I just didn't see it as a serious relationship, unlike apparently everyone else in the book.

Also, in the end, out of nowhere, Graham suddenly regains contact with his parents, whom he's been estranged from since he became famous. And it then turns out that, contrary to everything Graham has indicated about them in his narrations, they truly care about him and have been keeping tabs on his activities via magazines and stuff... instead of just talking to him... I'm sorry, WHAT? Talk about a plot element out of nowhere just for your convenience. This made no sense to me. You can't establish one image of certain characters all throughout the book, and right at the end, over the phone prove that it was totally not like that. I get that this was supposed to just be a feel-good moment, but usually that still has some kind of cause... or build up. Or something.

Summing Up:

I started off writing this review wondering, "Hmm... how did I feel about it?" And within 10 minutes it became this full-fledged rant. I read the book, entirely, at a high speed, all things considered, but I just totally disagree with it. This is not the book I hoped it would be. The characters were all right, and the concept held some appeal to me, but it desperately failed in the execution and overall in the plot. So two stars... because I did manage to finish and while reading didn't notice how much I disagreed with it.

TL;DR: this is SO NOT what happy looks like. (Sorry, I had to.)

Recommended To:

I honestly don't think I would.
Profile Image for Maureen.
507 reviews4,199 followers
March 9, 2016
I CANNOT WITH THIS BOOK. I'm pretty much giving it a 5 star because of how much it made me love it. It certainly wasn't perfect, but it was exactly what I needed at the moment and was just PERFECT FOR ME.
I loved the characters and the romance and just EVERYTHING SO MUCHHHHH. IT IS EVERYTHING.
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,030 reviews1,045 followers
September 8, 2016

Sweet, heartwarming and very wholesome. Three things why I like reading books by Ms. Jennifer E. Smith. There is a familiarity to her stories the reader could easily relate to. It’s like watching feel-good romantic movies. You could easily predict the plot but you enjoy it just the same.

I just thought the alternating POV between the girl and boy would have worked better in these kinds of stories instead of the third person because it seemed like the third person narrative made the pacing a bit more long-winded. I think it’s also the same reason why I feel quite distant from the characters.

Nevertheless, it was still a good and enjoyable read especially if you’re looking for something light and sweet. For a more detailed, more awesome review, do check out Adita’s.

To my sweet friend, Adita,

Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews962 followers
December 18, 2013

No, this is what boring looks like.

After The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, and now this, I think it's fair to say that Jennifer E Smith's writing is just not for me. The potential is there - interesting premise, realistic complications - but unfortunately the execution is bland and tedious, and I don't feel the most was made of the conflicts raised.

Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,365 followers
March 30, 2013
If you want a read that leaves a smile on your face, This Is What Happy Looks Like is the perfect choice! A sweet romance, a small town, and fun characters make this a great summer read that you should definitely bring on vacation!

A modern day fairy tale is what this story is, really. It's not the kind of love story that's particularly believable--no one accidentally pen pals a stranger who ends up being a movie star--but if you enjoy those lightweight romance books where the story is more of a dream than anything, this one fits the bill. It's fun for a different reason; instead of being a love story that burns with the fierce realness of two people who fall in love, Jennifer goes into almost every teenage girl's dream and plucks the most famous movie star into the arms of your every day small town girl. You will likely find yourself pondering on what this would actually be like, which is fun, you have to admit! Getting to see Graham's POV also brings up what it truly means to be famous. Not the glamorous red carpet side, but how nothing you ever do can be private, and no one truly knows the real you--he even feels like a stranger in his own family. I liked how his side of the story was just as developed as Ellie's, showing us his true feelings toward his stardom; he does not rejoice being recognized by the masses. While it's impossible to relate to that lifestyle (at least for most), it's easy to understand how not all of it is dazzling. It was nice that Ellie wasn't the star struck fan that some might expect, as well. She was basically unperturbed by stars in her town--at least until she finds out who, exactly, her email buddy is. But she wasn't pretentious about the relationship at all which made her character very likeable; how many do you know who would not immediately blast Facebook with their relationship had it been them? She actually had her reasons for wanting it to be kept on the down low which creates more than a few bumps along the road between these two. Although, it remains a lighthearted read nonetheless.

Like every small town, the people who reside in it know everyone else, this makes for a small but lively cast of side characters, as well as a great small town atmosphere which I genuinely felt throughout. Being from a tiny town not so different than Ellie's, I easily found myself roaming the streets along with her, enjoying the family owned quirky shops and town events. This small town garners more than just romance, too. We have some family issues that are visited throughout the story, friendship quibbles with her best friend, along with a scandal or two. Not everything is complicated, though; I especially loved Ellie and her mother's relationship. They have an easy going dynamic where they can actually talk to each other; no unconcerned parenting or melodramatics involved. And to add a great touch of charm to the story, we get snippets of emails between Ellie and Graham at the beginning of every chapter which I thought was a great way to keep the romance in the air.

Light, charming, funny, and sweet, this is one you pick up when you simply want to escape into a romantic lala-land! In short, this book is what happy looks like! <--- You know I had to!

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Booknut 101.
849 reviews922 followers
April 15, 2013
It is now 11:28 pm.

I forced my drooping eyelids to stay open so that I could finish this amazing book.

This is officially the best book I have ever read in my 17 years of life.

I'm crying and laughing at the same time.

I've been given a precious gift; a story that, like a jigsaw piece, has clicked into a place in my heart, a place I never knew was empty and waiting to be filled.

I'm so, so happy. And this book is to blame.

So it's off to bed - tomorrow is nearly here! And like our main protagonist, I plan to watch the sunrise and to meet my tomorrow with a smile :)
Profile Image for Mitch.
355 reviews605 followers
April 10, 2013
Believe it or not, I’ve seen You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle. Not willingly, but I’ve seen ‘em. This is What Happy Looks Like is neither. In reality, what this really is is Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!... which I have also seen, also not willingly. So if you're looking for some cute emails (it's not written wholly in epistolary form though, don't worry), yeah this book has 'em. If you're looking for every single movie star tired of his job deciding to looking for romance with a small town girl cliche, though, yeah this book has 'em too. If you're looking for a saccharine sweet plot that's guaranteed to cause tooth decay, yeah this book has that too. And if you're looking for an ultimately silly twist that predictably stems from said plot and cliches, down to issues with the best friend and the paparazzi and some nonsense involving the girl's father, yeah this book has 'em as well.

I guess I could've been sarcastic about the whole thing, mocked Ellie O'Neill like how I mocked Evie O'Neill of The Diviners, but you know, Ellie's a genuinely nice character, and ultimately this is a nice book about two nice people in the middle of silly season, so I haven't. Still, I'm wracking my brain trying to think of something to say and... I've got nothing. Because well, this is the ultimate fluff book that's the reading equivalent of eating a big bag of cotton candy, it's large in volume, but mostly filler, and there's just nothing substantive beyond the same nonplot of the last gazillion rom coms to critique. So all I can say is that maybe I'm jaded, maybe (strike that, more likely) I just don't do lighthearted romance, but for whatever reason, if this is what happy looks like, it just seems too silly.
Profile Image for emma.
1,823 reviews48.6k followers
December 2, 2021
narrator: this is not what happy looks like.

part of a series i'm doing where i review books i read a long time ago and it's like a fun litmus test of how much sleep i got
Profile Image for Lala BooksandLala.
500 reviews62.1k followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
April 27, 2016
DNF at 100 pages.
Wow, this novel single handedly solidified my dislike for fiction books about famous people.
Profile Image for Amelie.
Author 11 books566 followers
May 17, 2017

Der Geschmack von Glück war auch beim zweiten Mal lesen wieder eine wundervolle Geschichte. Wenn auch recht vorhersehbar. Dieses Mal hat mich besonders der Schreibstil überzeugen können, der den Charakteren eine solche Tiefe verliehen hat und der Henley lebhaft wirken ließ. Viele sehr nachdenkliche Szenen haben das Buch auf jeden Fall von vielen anderen Contemporary Romance Romanen abgehoben und so kann ich bei der Wertung von vor drei Jahren blieben.


Dieses Buch ist einfach WUNDERVOLL ♥
Das liegt vor allem daran, dass es SOOOO Süß gewesen ist! Ich habe es gelesen, kurz nachdem Sternengewitter herauskam und mir gesagt wurde, ich solle lieber Der Geschmack von Glück lesen, weil das noch besser sei. Sie hatten recht...
Durch Zufall landet eine Mail von Teenstar Graham Larkin nicht bei seinem Schweinesitter, sondern bei Kleinstadtmädchen Ellie O'Neill und die beiden beginnen, ohne auch nur den Namen des anderen zu kennen, miteinander zu schreiben. Täglich. Dauernd. Mails, die belanglosen Unfug enthalten und Mails über das Leben und die Welt. Eigentlich ist alles schön, findet Ellie. Aber dann beschließt Graham seinen nächsten Film, für den ohnehin eine Kleinstadt gesucht wird, in Ellies Heimatstadt zu legen, eines der wenigen Details, die er aus ihrem Leben kennt. Ellie ist davon aber nicht so begeistert wie Graham sich das erhofft hatte...
Die Geschichte war vor allem deshalb so toll, weil sie realistisch wirkte. Die beiden haben sich in einem etwas "privateren" Setting kennengelernt. Seltsam das zu sagen, wo es sich ja um das Internet handelt, aber dem war irgendwie so. Es war dadurch realistischer. Auch war der Humor einfach TOLL TOLL TOLL ♥ Besonders die Mails habe ich einfach unheimlich gern gelesen =) Vor allem wenn es um Grahams Hausschwein ging xD
Dabei verläuft das Buch natürlich auch irgendwie typisch und vorhersehbar und die Probleme mit ihrem Vater waren auch leicht überdramatisiert, aber trotzdem habe ich die Geschichte in mich aufgesogen wie einen Schwamm!
Profile Image for Shannon A.
674 reviews530 followers
July 14, 2016
Such a cute read. I love Jennifer E. Smith's effortless and charming writing style and stories. I thought this story was adorable and a perfect summer romance! Not my favorite by Jen, but a sweet and heartfelt novel.
Profile Image for Carmen .
759 reviews67 followers
April 21, 2013
So the thing with Jennifer Smith's stories is... It's not unique but it's... Amazing.
I don't know she does it, but somehow, it's almost like she takes cliches... and makes them new and refreshing, and remind us of WHY they became a cliche in the first place. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight used the cliche of love at first sight, and this one of falling in love with a celebrity.

And OMG. I loved it. It was absolutely adorable.
I did wish the mystery of who Graham was withheld a little longer, but it's fine.
This book is about twice the length of TSPLFS (Too lazy to type it all :3) but it never felt long. Like TSPLFS never feeling too short, this one never felt long. These stories are each at their perfect length.

I loved both characters- they were genuine, and kind of heartbreaking... Oh jeez.

A great GREAT chick-lit for those days when you just need a smile... :)



This. Sounds. So. Perfect.

And since I loved The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, I will probably love this one. :) AND THE COVER FITS IN PERFECTLY :D
Profile Image for Kat (Lost in Neverland).
445 reviews704 followers
July 31, 2014

This Is What BORING Looks like

After Ellie gets an email from a random stranger online when he types the wrong address by accident, the two of them start chatting and form a three-month long pen-pal relationship. They never reveal their names but Ellie finds herself telling him things about her life that not even her best friend knows. The whole mystery of the situation makes Ellie look forward to each exchange with excitement and thrill.

What she doesn't know is that the funny, charming stranger is actually Graham Larkin, national movie star and teen heartthrob.
He somehow manages to get his next movie project filmed in Henley, Maine, the small sleepy town where Ellie's lived her whole life. Simply for the change to maybe catch a glimpse of her or meet her.
But Ellie isn't as welcoming to the attention as he thought. She's hiding secrets of her own, ones that, if people found out, would ruin her and her mother's quiet, comfortable life in Maine forever.

Smith's previous teen love story, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, was fantastic and deep and I adored it. So I picked up this one eagerly, hoping for a similar but still brilliant book.

Smith has a way of writing an adorable love story while still keeping familial aspects and issues in check, while other YA romance can tend to just ignore those factors. I love that about her.
Unfortunately, this novel was lackluster in both the relationship and the mind-boggingly slow and tedious storyline.

The beginning was great, I loved the unique, summery setting, the loveable characters, and the utter cuteness.
The middle was boring, uneventful, and yawn-inducing.
The ending was pretty uneventful but generally okay, albeit the excessive cheese.

A lot of things bothered me in this book.

1. Ellie and her mom's financial pride.
Both Ellie and her mother had the same irritating problem: they couldn't accept financial help when it was given to them.
Ellie needs a thousand dollars to pay for a poetry college course at Harvard (which she and 14 other teenagers won) and she can't 'let' Graham help her out.
Yeah yeah, I get it. There's that annoying little thing called 'pride' that people have.
I've never understood this. Maybe because I've been fortunate in my life so far and haven't needed financial aid (*knocks on wood*) but I still don't get it.
If you are obviously struggling financially and someone who loves or cares about you cares enough to support you, why would you turn them down, simply because your pride won't have it?

In this case, Graham is a flipping movie star. He pays more than a thousand bucks every month on his pet pig Wilbur (nice name, btw, very original).
Yet Ellie would still feel horrifically guilty and needy if she let him pay for it, which would only make him happy to make her happy.

You know how many people would kill for that kind of loving aid, Ellie?


Sometimes you just have you screw your pride and accept help when it's openly given to you.


2. Ellie and Quinn's friendship.

I ship Quinn and Devon (tall, lanky geek with glasses who reads The Great Gatsby and has been in love with her for years) more than the main characters. I'm not sure if that's a good thing.
I really wanted to know more about Quinn and Ellie's relationship and see them interacting and, you know, being friends.
Unfortunately, Quinn was, in my opinion, shoved out of the storyline over a petty 'fight' between her and Ellie.
It seemed as if the author just wanted her out of the way so more time could be spent building Ellie and Graham's cutesy love scenes.

At least in SPLFS, it was interesting and the story was kept short.
This, however, was drawn out and stretched and pulled until anything enjoyable was yawned away by a actionless plot.
I can't tell you how many times I literally yawned and almost fell asleep while reading this book.

I'm happy that Smith never let the characters actually ever say the word 'love'. In a YA romance, that's always refreshing, and another thing I kind of liked about SPLFS.

Still, I'm not sure anyone should waste their time with this. Read SPLFS instead. It's a much faster plot and kept short and cute.
Not that this book wasn't cute, it just was far too long for what it was; a cheesy, unrealistic love story.

Profile Image for Jessie.
253 reviews107 followers
April 6, 2013
Actual rating: 2.5 stars

Nothing really happens, but a cute story nonetheless. The events in this book was actually pretty realistic. It deals with the problems Graham faces as a movie star and Ellie's past. Though there never was a real solution to them, there isn't supposed to be one in reality, and I find the no solution part really refreshing. In reality, there are difficulties we can't tackle, problems we can't handle, that's why the whole plot felt like something that would actually happen in real life, and I love that about the book.

I also loved how the main characters could get to know and understand each other first then fall in love, rather than being instantly attracted to one another, which seems to be the trend in the romance department now. Plus, the fact that they could actually talk to each other properly without getting lovey-doveyOh-I-can't-get-my-hands-off-of-you is also really special.

Overall, I thought this book was adorable, and I really want to know what would happen to both of them in the future.
Profile Image for Coco.
1,019 reviews419 followers
April 9, 2017

"Los recuerdos de infancia eran como el equipaje en los aviones: daba igual lo lejos que viajaras o cuánto tiempo tuvieras que quedarte, solo te permitían llevar una maleta. Y aunque dichas maletas podían contener algunos recuerdos difusos, no parecían suficientes como para durar toda una vida."

Profile Image for Irena BookDustMagic.
617 reviews506 followers
May 10, 2015
There's one thing about me (that you did or did not know) that had a huge impact on me when it comes to enjoying while reading this book: I am a celebrity freak.

So I didn't go into this book totally blind. Even if I wanted to, I don't think that would be possible for me since many of my GR friends have already liked and recommended this book to me.

This is a light and fluffy contemporary novel, perfect for summer read.
I can't help but to feel a little bit sorrow for not waiting two more months so I could read it for the first time on the seaside.
But hey, I can always re-read it! And I surely will!

This story is written in third person, but it is written so good that it took me almost one third of the book to realize it was not written in first person.
That happens very rarely to me and I always take it as a good thing.

I liked every single character in this book.
The thing I liked the most was that Graham was a celebrity actor and since I like to read and watch the news when it comes to famous people, I liked reading about Graham's (let's call it) adventures on the set, celebrity gossip plotting from his menager and everything that comes between.

This book has one particular scene that got me so invested into that moment of reading, it made me feel things I wouldn't expect I would, it made me sad. That scene is

I would recommend this book for reading while you're on vecation, on the beach if it's possible.
I think that's the way to get the best reading experiance when it comes to this story.
Profile Image for Jasprit.
527 reviews749 followers
April 4, 2013
3.5 stars

This is What Happy Looks was a super cute book about two strangers being brought together by an e-mail being sent to the wrong e-mail address. Before you know it Ellie and Graham are sending e-mails back and forth to each other for the next few weeks. Ellie doesn’t know Graham’s name and that he’s a famous actor, but he’s the only person she’s ever opened up to. She finds it easy to talk to him and tell him things about him she’s never told anyone before. Ellie’s not had the best life, she and her mum moved to Maine when their shady past was brought out into the limelight. Her mum doesn’t want that sort of attention so uprooted Ellie when she was little and moved her to a quiet Maine. So while Ellie’s enjoying talking to Graham via e-mail on a regular basis, she doesn’t expect him to turn up at Maine with a big production company ready to film his latest up and coming movie. Can Ellie accept Graham for who he really is when she’s hidden away for so long?

After a few mix-ups Ellie finally comes face to face with Graham and she’s in for a surprise as he wasn’t what she was expecting, she feels like she’s been made a fool of, but he’s been the only one she’s ever been able to connect to, so is she going to blow off the relationship (whatever it is) over a few pesky paparazzi?

I initially adored the e-mails that went back and forth between Graham and Ellie, they were adorable funny but most of all honest. It’s where they shared their inner most fears and dreams never expecting to meet the person in real life. But then when Graham arrived at Maine, the e-mails started withering down to nothing. I think I would have much preferred the e-mails to continue through the course of the book as both characters made many mistakes which could have probably been cleared up quicker if they’d have just communicated properly in the first place.

Both characters had awkward pasts which brought them together in the first place. They were both at a place in life where they still wanted something else. Graham thought he had everything as he was a big high flying actor but he was always alone in his grand old house and his relationship with his parents wasn’t that great. Ellie and her mum were just able to scrape by, they had a shop which was doing okay, but when something broke down they had to just manage. Ellie had wanted to go on a writer’s course but as it had no scholarship, she had to make her own money; she didn’t want to ask her mum especially after everything that had happened. So just having this correspondence with each other through e-mail brightened up their day.

I did like this cute relationship which was developing between Graham and Ellie, with the way their lives were, they deserved that bit of happiness. But I had a hard time connecting to either character. I did feel for them at times, the heartache they had to experience, but there was never anything which they did which left a great impression with me. Everything about them and their relationship was cute but other than that it wasn’t anything memorable.

Also characters which dither about frustrate me hugely. They had been talking for weeks and so knew they felt something towards each other, but just didn’t do anything about it until later. I understand Ellie was worried about her past being brought up, but really if you know the guy you like is going to be around just for a few weeks wouldn’t you want to make the most of your time together?

This is What Happy Looks Like was a book which I had really high hopes for, but it just really fell flat in places, I found myself forcing to read for the sake of reading and not because I was actually enjoying it. However I’m sure I will be in the minority with my feelings about this book as most readers will be sure to devour it right up, so please don’t let my review put you off in giving it a go.
Profile Image for Nafiza.
Author 6 books1,206 followers
March 26, 2013
Here you go:

I haven’t read The Statistical Possibility of Love at First Sight so I was not really aware of Smith’s writing style when I first started this novel. I do think the premise, while it has been done countless times in countless variations, will remain attractive to anyone looking for a fairytale romance.

Except, you know, this novel doesn’t exactly deliver on the fairytale portion. It’s not exactly grim and realistic but Smith is careful to ensure that the not-so-fun parts of the fairytale romance get fair exposure. For example, the paparazzi hounding you, the uncertainty of your schedule and the possibility that you won’t be able to see your girlfriend or boyfriend for months on end. Stuff like that is addressed quite fairly. However, the novel is, predominantly, fluff. The feel good fluff that you will consume preferably by a pool or at the beach. It is happy-making though there are rough spots scattered here and there to spice up the narrative.

As is usual with YA novels, there are parental issues and this is quite legitimate but I found that Ellie’s scenes with her dad were not as powerful as Smith probably intended them to be and I was rather bummed by how anticlimactic it all turned out to be. I wanted there to be a grand confrontation and yes, I realize there is something understated about it and in hindsight, I will probably appreciate the delicacy with which it was handled but the drama queen in me really wanted there to be some screaming. Also, what the heck is happening with the friendship between Ellie and her best friend? There were major pacing issues there and for their fallout to feel more authentic, there needed to be more time given to have the reader figure out the relationship between the two but alas, Ellie’s best friend has the ancillary position which somehow dissolves into nothing until it’s all magically fixed. I don’t know, you guys. If friendship is going to matter in a novel, I’d like to see something sincere, honest and a little painful. I don’t want the best friend to just be there as a prop, as someone to divert or perhaps focus attention from and to the protagonist.

Another issue I had here was with the romance. Obviously this book makes no secret that it’s primary focus is the romance between Graham and Ellie. And I found it rather refreshing that Ellie is not insecure about Graham’s feelings for her but I think I would have liked to see a bit more interiority there. Graham, on the other hand, is almost spilling over with his love for Ellie but then the ending occurs and the incongruity between him wanting to be with Ellie, being heartbroken by her etc, when juxtaposed with the ending (which is not sad but leaves room for thought) just confused me. They are very cute when they are together but I found it so interesting that, despite their obvious interest in each other, they are still still, somehow, inexplicably, level headed.

Also, I loved how poignantly Graham’s life is shown to be though. Smith shows that fame and a celebrity’s life is not necessary equal to happiness. The image of Graham sitting at home alone with a pet pig is very convincing.

Do I recommend this book? Yeah. It’s entertainment. It has its faults but it is fun and if you suspend your disbelief and don’t question things too much, you should enjoy it.
589 reviews1,031 followers
September 18, 2013
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

“Maybe growing up was really nothing more than growing away: from your old life, from your old self, from all those things that kept you tethered to your past.”

What does happy look like? For me, happy looks like reading good books. I wasn't exactly the happiest person when I finished this novel. But that's not to claim that Jennifer's latest was a complete disaster, I would just put it as mildly interesting and cute. I think I would've rated this differently if I was in a different mood. Maybe something way harsher, because in reality, there wasn't anything too outstanding about this novel apart from a few points. However I never try to change a rating if I read it more than 3 days ago (it's something to do with my OCD-ness).

Graham and Ellie's friendship begins with an email about a pig named Wilbur and a wrong email address. Graham is a movie star; middle of everywhere Los Angeles and Ellie, a plain girl from middle of nowhere, Maine. Yet Ellie doesn't know that who she's talking to is a movie star, but she’s about to find out when he shows up in Maine, filming a set of his upcoming movie.

The characters of Jennifer's novel are relatively amiable. Our main character, Ellie was full of hope and dreams that may never come true due to her family's economic issues, but her maintaining positivity during the majority of the time made me like Ellie even more. Nevertheless, there were times where she became way too weepy. My other small qualm was her dramatic-ness and how sensitive she became with the slightest of issues, like thinking of what the public would think of Graham and her. As for Graham, I loved him. His light humour kept me absorbed throughout the novel and his belief in impossible becoming possible was touching. Unlike what I suspected, Graham did not hold some I-too-good-for-you attitude compared to other cast members of This Is What Happy Looks Like.

These to practically polar opposites turned out to be an unconvincing couple. While their relationship had been building over such a long time over emails, it just didn't sell it for me when they finally met in real person. It was like instant love in an indirect way. Like it was cheating me. From what I gather, Graham and Ellie only really spent less than a week together and their love was rather strong. Sure, this novel went over a longer time but time that they actually spent together was low. For me, this chemistry was not selling it to me, unfortunately. Furthermore, I'd like to point out the lack of actual plot in This Is What Happy Looks Like. There's just drama, romance, family-issues but not much else for such a hefty book. I must admittedly say that I was looking for more. More depth, more motion and more intricacy.

This Is What Happy Looks Like is a cute summer read that lacks a little complication but is satisfying all the same.
Profile Image for Claudia B..
261 reviews
Want to read
October 15, 2012
"You've Got Mail" + "Sleepless in Seattle" + the super star thing + a mystery in the family?!

Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,608 reviews1,481 followers
September 28, 2013
This is the kind of book you read in-between other books. It is sorta like cotton candy, you put a big fluffy wad in your mouth and it dissolves immediately without much fuss or substance to it. Don’t get me wrong it is delicious and enjoyable but it really isn’t going to stick with you either.
That is what This is What Happy Looks Like was for me. It is easy and flows along without much thought. It is cute and if you have already read Anna and the French Kiss or Lola and the Boy Next Door it then this is as good as any other cuddle on the couch easy YA romance read. I actually liked a different book by this author a little better. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight was a little more enjoyable read for me and I liked the story line of that better. But if you have read those three books already then yep give this one a go.
Ellie receives a rogue e-mail from someone on the other side of the country. When she replies to let the originator of the e-mail know he has sent it to the wrong person they begin an e-mail relationship changes both their lives. Graham the originator of the e-mail is really a famous actor and it has been so long since someone has treated him the way Ellie does that he had almost forgot how lonely he had become in the middle of his fame. He is able to set up the location of his movie in the sleepy little town that Ellie lives in, in hopes of finally meeting the mystery girl.Cue the rest of the story.
It is cute with some hiccups along the way of course but all and all they come to terms with who they are the lives they lead. I did get a little frustrated in the middle when Ellie pushed Graham away because she doesn’t want to have any attention brought to her. But other than that it is a likeable story, with likable characters.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.3k followers
July 10, 2016
Cramathon read #2: COMPLETE!

This book was a bit of a mess. I really wanted to like this because it sounded SO cute, but it was a bit of a letdown. The writing was fine and the characters were cute but there were just TOO many things happening. I feel like this would have been so much better if the author had cut back on some of the dramatics tbh.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,164 reviews1,521 followers
September 21, 2016
Ellie gets a random email asking to make sure Wilbur gets fed and being an animal lover she couldn't help but respond to let the person know he'd gotten the wrong person. Striking up a conversation over email Ellie and Graham begin a friendship that Ellie never thought would go any further than email since the pair are from opposite sides of the states.

When a movie production ends up taking place in Ellie's small town she finds it a bit more of an inconvenience than anything. Everyone a flutter over the hot young star is not something studious Ellie can relate to so when Graham shows up and announces he's the mystery boy that Ellie had been falling for online she's obviously quite shocked.

This Is What Happy Looks Like is basically like a young adult version of Sleepless in Seattle. It was actually a quite nice light read getting involved in the lives of these two teens that are complete opposites in every sense.

Along with Ellie and Graham's online and off relationship there's a bit more to the story that added a bit of suspense to the read. Ellie's mother had a past that the pair had been hiding from so having a major star along with the paparazzi suddenly in Ellie's life became quite the issue to deal with.

Overall, enjoyed this story of opposites attracting. Definitely a young adult version of Sleepless in Seattle type of read.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.wordpress....
Profile Image for Muse-ic ♬.
387 reviews111 followers
January 30, 2016
Just barely 3 stars. It was sorta cute, but not really. I wasn't really feeling it and the two main characters didn't have much chemistry. It was also a little bit insta-love-y. Like, just because you emailed each other for a few months, doesn't mean you've fallen in love! I kind of reminded me of Meg Cabot's work.

So one day, famous 17-year-old actor Graham Larkin sent an email to one of his managers about walking his pet pig. His email, however, went somewhere else. He missed one number in the address and that was all it took for the email to go to 16-year-old Ellie O'Niell way over in Maine. They strike up a conversation, emailing back and forth knowing only the age and gender of the other, not their names. Over the few months they spend emailing each other, the two learn more about each other, and Ellie does give "GDL" the name of the town she lives in and that she works in the only sweets shop in town......clearly the whole "internet predator" thing went out the window just like that.
Graham suggests that they film his next movie in Ellie's town. And it goes from there.

The emails that went back and forth between Graham and Ellie were really cute and I was excited to read this! But as the book went on, I sort of lost interest. It was a bit lacking in some areas and the end was very open-ended....like almost as if there should have been a few more chapters. When it was over I kept flipping pages (on my Kindle) to make sure I didn't skip anything.

I was turned off by the insta-love. Over the months of emailing, the two began falling for the other unknown person. And then they meet...and fall deeper in love. But I really didn't feel or see it. Sure, they exchanged sweet words and there were descriptions of how their hearts stumbled and they sacrificed things for each other, but they had no chemistry in person. Their email exchanges were cuter than their dates, their kisses, and their conversations all combined. I didn't really believe they were in love (this is me ignoring the insta-love aspect because I've been in a chick-lit faze lately, so I'm turning a blind eye).

The whole time they were together (which really wasn't that much time; a week or two at most) they had the paparazzi to worry about, because Ellie is secretly the illegitimate daughter of a U.S. senator and her and her mother didn't need any scandals. I really wish there was more about that. We were given a lot of background information, which was great, but....meh. I just wish there was a little bit more .

Quinn, Ellie's best friend since childhood got mad at her because Ellie never told her about the 17-year-old boy she was emailing, who also happened to be Graham Larkin, and gave her the silent treatment for at least a week. Now, I am not a part of this friendship or anything and it's not my job to tell them how to be friends, but that seems like a really crappy reason to ditch your friend!

It's also fairly predictable. Nothing was a shocker. The only part I was like "OMG!" was when because I thought it would be an exciting conflict because hello! He's a movie star!. But even that wasn't really a twist. It was resolved five pages later.

I don't dislike the characters. Graham is so cute, and I loved his background and Ellie is a sweet, mature, and smart girl. Her mom is okay. But other than that, it wasn't a special or striking book. I'll probably forget about it soon.

I don't not recommend it. It wasn't really bad and it has decent ratings, so give it a shot! Hopefully you'll enjoy it more than I did :)
Profile Image for Katrina Passick Lumsden.
1,779 reviews12.8k followers
November 15, 2013
The word for today is: Disappointment.

That is what this book was for me; a major disappointment. I will attempt to explain why, but it may not come out as coherently as I hope.

For starters, nothing happens. Yes, there are events, characters do things, but nothing happens. Nothing really changes except for a few minor details, a few outlooks shift, but after being force-fed a diet of secret scandals and lies, I felt like perhaps there should have been a bit more climax. Instead the entire story just fizzled. And then stopped. It's like running away from home, that heady mix of exhilaration and anticipation, only to find yourself, 30 minutes later, a mile away from your house, bored, and ready to call it a day. So you turn around and, before you know it, you're back in your room listening to The Smashing Pumpkins and wondering what's for dinner.

What was the point?

That's how I feel about this book. It was completely pointless. There were no major revelations, just a steady stream of "Oh, well, it happened, guess there's nothing to be done for it now." The characters are shallow and unsympathetic in their lethargy, and the author just barely skimmed the top of cliched teen angst in her attempt to make an emotional connection with the reader. Graham is sad, and Ellie is sad, but there's never really anything more. There aren't any major reasons for their sadness other than the fact that neither of them seems capable of connecting with another human being on an emotional level. Ultimately, they don't even connect with each other which I believe is supposed to be the point of the story.

The side characters are ghosts, flitting in and out of the story at the author's whim, only used as a means of pushing the protagonists together or keeping them apart. Ellie's mom was disgusting, so full of selfish intent that she didn't seem to give a single, solitary shit what her daughter was thinking or feeling, yet she was presented as someone who had her daughter's best interests at heart. She kept her daughter away from her biological father, refused his repeated attempts to offer monetary support....and this is an area that really pisses me off in today's society; why is it considered "strong" and "independent" for a woman to refuse monetary support for her child? It is, to me, one of the most selfish, blatantly prideful and idiotic things any mother can do. Ellie's mom didn't refuse monetary support for Ellie's sake, we can be damn sure of that, so the fact that her actions are regarded as somehow heroic when her daughter nearly loses the opportunity of a lifetime merely because she has a shaky financial foundation...it makes me want to slap someone. Repeatedly.

When all was said and done, this book just felt like some kind of half-assed character study with very little study and flimsy characters. After slogging through 400 pages of pointless dribble, I expected to at least get some hint of HEA. But no. I'm not averse to ambiguous, uncertain endings...when they're done well and with reason. It irks me, however, when there's absolutely no reason that there shouldn't be some kind of HEA, but it never surfaces. I watch people in real life wasting enough of their lives making things more complicated than they need to be...I don't really enjoy reading about it, too. If this book had a bit more emotional depth, the attempted heavy ending could have been justified. The writing, however, just wasn't up to the task.

Profile Image for Adita ✨The Slumbering Insomniac✨.
134 reviews259 followers
December 11, 2015
For someone who gives five full stars to every book that has successfully managed to extract one happy tear out of her eyes, this book proved to be way too much endearing and heartwarming.

It's not the storyline that got me reading in the first place, but rather the peculiar and seemingly funny first few pages that promised yawn-free, tedium-free waking hours of the entire night!



–I forgot my phone.


–So how am I supposed to e-mail you now?

–I guess we’ll just have to talk.

–Know any good sailing jokes?

–I’ve got one about seagulls.


–Why do seagulls fly over the sea?


–Because if they flew over the bay, they’d be bagels.

(Funny how Bagel is the name of Ellie's poodle, and this is the first time I came across this joke, although I don't know about you.)

The whole book is peppered with witty conversations that'll make your lips curl up unconsciously in a smile or worst yet, make you let out a hearty chuckle, if you're a sucker for not-so-cheesy-or-overwhelming-but-undeniably-adorable-teenage-romance!

This story about just Graham and Ellie(sans their usual character profiles- he's a teenage movie star and she's a small town girl who sets out in search of her estranged father who happens to be a senator) is one that, after you age significantly as a reader and when you look back at your bookshelf, will definitely elicit a 'ooh, that was a lovely story' kinda response!
Profile Image for Theresa.
107 reviews140 followers
June 28, 2016
I thought this book was pretty good! Definitely a very fluffy, easy contemporary read. I wish there was more of a dialogue with Quinn and Ellie's relationship, their feud in the beginning felt to forced to me. Otherwise it was pretty good! I loved the town of Henley, I could imagine it perfectly in my mind! 3.7 stars!
May 18, 2019
I liked this one a lot! The unique storyline of two teens striking up a relationship due to a mistakenly sent e-mail about a pig was interesting enough to draw me right in. This is the second novel I’ve read and enjoyed by Jennifer Smith; I think I’ve found a new favorite Y.A. author!
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