[Review] This is What Happy Looks Like

Amy's Reviews, Reviews 0 Comments 1st February, 2014

This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.
[Review] This is What Happy Looks LikeThis Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer Smith
Published by Hachette Digital, Inc. on 2013-04-02
Genres: Family, Film, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Source: Amazon, Purchase
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?

So, I picked up this book with the thought that it was probably going to be majorly corny.  By the end of this book I was pleasantly surprised to find I actually liked this book.  This is What Happy Look Like has one cheese, cheese, cheesy plot line.


The story starts when a young Hollywood star accidentally emails the wrong person about walking his pet pig.  Then the person he emails responds to let him know that he got wrong address and just happens to be a seventeen year old girl.  They start an online pen pal relationship never sharing personal details like last names, just hopes and dreams.  The first couple of pages of the book is told in their emails.  Then Graham has to go on location to shoot his new movie and he just happens to convince the director to go to the small Maine town where Ellie lives so he can meet the girl who has helped bring him back down to earth after getting lost in the Hollywood glitz and glamour.  The plot line is basically a teen version of You’ve Got Mail meets Knotting Hill.

I am here to tell you don’t let that scare you away because this book is about so more than a Hollywood star falling in love with an average girl.  This is not a Cinderella story.  This story is about a summer of self discovery.  It is about forgiveness.   It is about the truth and reality of a summer romance.  Ellie is hiding secrets of own about her father’s identity.  With the help of Graham and his life in the spotlight she has to face those secrets.  I liked how she come to terms and takes some baby steps toward the path that leads to her father.  She is able to begin her own healing processes for wounds she didn’t even know were still open.

I liked how Graham has problems of his own because he is estranged from his parents because for him acting is a career.  For his parents, it’s like the trip across Europe every eighteen or seventeen year old takes before going  to college.  Maybe Graham will go to college and maybe he won’t but I liked how he is able to take baby steps back on the road towards his family.  I liked that Ellie doesn’t treat him like a movie star.  I liked that she is able to see past, after a while, and remember the guy who emailed her because for this summer they need each other, the friendship and understanding that each brings to table to move on and grow.

So, I liked this book a lot because it was so real.  I liked that it didn’t end with empty promises of declarations of forever love.  I liked that things are not completely resolved with their parents.  Both Graham and Ellie are only seventeen and they have the rest of their lives for forever love and healing.  This book is about possibilities and I like that it ends with a whole world of them, leaving the reader, me to imagine them all.  This is What Happy Looks Like left me floating on a nice cloud of happy.

Written by Amy Gilman

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