Monday, May 27, 2013

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

Title: This Is What Happy Looks Like
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Published: April 2, 2013 (Poppy)
Rating: Lunch Break Read
Format: Physical ARC, won from AnnaReads. (Thanks!)
Summary: 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?
I read This Is What Happy Looks Like for the Spring into Summer Readalong. Thankfully, I enjoyed it a lot more than The Vincent Boys. I love how Jennifer E. Smith gets such unique titles, yet they match the book completely. This book had me smiling so much! And it had some fabulously quotable lines:
“How can you know it makes you happy if you’ve never experienced it?” – “There are different kinds of happy,” she said. “Some kinds don’t need any proof.”
This Is What Happy Looks Like was all kinds of cuteness. In involved Charlotte's Web references, a pet pig, summer in Maine, an adorable and famous teenage boy, and ice cream. If that's not a wonderful combination, I don't know what is!

I liked both Ellie and Graham, and their relationship was sweet. Obviously, many a girl has dreamed about some situation similar to this one: falling in love with a star. Around Ellie's age, I probably would have wished it was Johnny Depp. Or, less disturbingly - as Johnny Depp is a few months older than my parents - Pacey Witter. Er, I mean Joshua Jackson. And Ellie's reaction when she finds out Graham was her mystery email boy? Priceless!

Why is it that so many YA heroines have only one best friend with whom they fight for the duration of the book? Is it that difficult to write BFF interactions? Does it allow for more time inside the character's head without duplicating information? Does it just add random drama? I just don't get it. I think this book handled the issue fairly well, but I just don't understand this whole thing in general.

I wish there had been a more interaction between Ellie and Graham and a little less family drama. It wasn't too imbalanced, but it would have been nice. I think the thing that would've improved it the most for me would to see a lot more of their interactions before they met! Their emails were so fun and deep and witty; that was probably my favorite part of the whole book. Plus, supposedly, they developed feelings during the emailing process, but we didn't really even get to witness it. What we did get to see was wonderful, though.

This Is What Happy Looks Like is a great summer read! The small-town Maine setting makes a perfect escape. It is a book best enjoyed outdoors, with your toes in the sand (or grass) and an ice cream cone in your other hand.
As Ellie walked into town, her backpack heavy on her shoulders, she counted the merits of their plan in the same way she might count the benefits of an extra ice cream cone (calcium) or a few extra minutes of sleep (energy).

When he’d kissed her, it had felt like the striking of a match, something hard and bright in his chest, a part of him he hadn’t even realized was waiting to be lit.

The morning felt like a mixing bowl just waiting for its ingredients; there was a sense of possibility to it, a promise of something more to come.

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