Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Review of This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

This Is What Happy Looks Like 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?

(Summary from GoodReads)


I was so jazzed to read Jennifer E. Smith’s This Is What Happy Looks Like.  Her novel The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight, was a perfect fast, romantic, sweet, pick me up kind of book.  I hoped that This Is What Happy Looks Like would have a similar vibe.  Unfortunately, Smith botched the setting and her plot was not especially well done.

This Is What Happy Looks Like is set in one of my favorite places ever: Maine.  For the most part, Smith did a nice job of crafting a cutesy, Maine small town.  It sounded exactly like hundreds of towns I’ve strolled through on vacations.  What ruined it though, was the fact that the main character and her mother claimed they had never heard of one food that was quintessentially Maine.  In reality, this simply would not be the case.

My other big gripe about this book was the role the parents played.  Ellie has been raised largely by her mother and her father has been absent, a fact that troubles her and plays a central role in this book.  This storyline was of little interest to me—given that in The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight Hadley has issues with her father, I felt like Smith was recycling storylines.  Plus it felt a little too much like My Life Next Door--another novel where there's a badly constructed plot point involving fathers.  I also thought that Ellie’s issues with her father weren’t very nicely connected with the love story.

These issues might have been forgivable, but I didn’t think that there was much else to this story.  Ellie really wanted to write and go away to college and I was exactly the same way at her age, but I didn’t find her memorable.  Graham is introduced with a very memorable tidbit, but he wasn’t really special aside from that.

Smith’s sophomore novel was cute enough, but it’s not something I’ll be going out of my way to reread or purchase.  It’s just not distinctive among all of the YA romances out there.  If you’re less picky than I am, however, you may find a real winner in Smith’s book.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  Thank you!

1 comment:

  1. I found that Statistical Probability destroyed me emotionally so I was hoping for a lighter read with this one to match its bright cheerful cover. Since it's on hold at the library, I will still be reading it but I will make sure to lower my expectations.



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