Monday, 8 April 2013

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

Title: This Is What Happy Looks Like
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Author Info: Website|Twitter
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Publication Date: 4th April 2013

Tell Me About It
If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

In This is What Happy Looks Like, Jennifer E. Smith's new YA novel, perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O'Neill meet—albeit virtually—when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an email about his pet pig, Wilbur. In the tradition of romantic movies like "You've Got Mail" and "Sleepless in Seattle," the two 17-year-olds strike up an email relationship, even though they live on opposite sides of the country and don't even know each other's first names.

Through a series of funny and poignant messages, Graham and Ellie make a true connection, sharing intimate details about their lives, hopes and fears. But they don't tell each other everything; Graham doesn't know the major secret hidden in Ellie's family tree, and Ellie is innocently unaware that Graham is actually a world-famous teen actor living in Los Angeles.

When the location for the shoot of Graham's new film falls through, he sees an opportunity to take their relationship from online to in-person, managing to get the production relocated to picturesque Henley, Maine, where Ellie lives. But can a star as famous as Graham have a real relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie's mom want her to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

Just as they did in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, the hands of fate intervene in wondrous ways in this YA novel that delivers on high concept romance in lush and thoughtful prose.

My Thoughts
When I first heard of Jennifer E. Smith it was just before her book TSPOLAFS was released, I had contacted the publisher regarding another book and was given the chance to read Jennifer's book too.  I read it, I loved it, and have been waiting forever for This Is What Happy Looks Like.

This Is What Happy Looks Like is set in Henley, Maine, the home of Ellie O' Neill and her Mum.  Ellie works at Sprinkles, an ice cream shop with her best friend Quinn.  This Is What Happy Looks Life starts off with emails sent between EONeill22 and GLD824.  GLD824 mistakenly sends an email to EONeill22 asking them too look after his pig, what follows is a slew of emails as they converse with each other across the country, only knowing each other by their email or initial.
Soon, teen heartthrob Graham Larkin travels to Henley to film his new movie, giving him the chance to find out who EONeill22 is and to meet them in person.  After a case of mistaken identity Ellie and Graham soon meet up and what follows is a story of how a small town girl can fall in love with a teen heartthrob.
However its not all plain sailing and Ellie and her Mum have their own secret to hide and soon everything comes crashing down on Ellie, her friendship with Quinn is in tatters and any feelings she has for Graham are hastily pushed aside.

When I began reading This Is What Happy Looks Like I could not stop.  The characters are easy to believe and love.  The town of Henley feels like a quaint little place where everyone knows everyone else where they would all band together if someone needed them too.  As the town is described, all its little shops, all the nooks and cranny's, I wanted to be there, to be able to look out a window and see everything that is being described.  I loved how Graham is so down to earth and tries to do everyday things like other teenage boys, and not act like he is some spoilt brat.
The friendship that Ellie and Quinn have was an ideal friendship, they each balance the other one out, and when their friendship falls apart for a short while I wanted the to sit and have it out, sharing all the secrets they hid from each other to get back to the way they where.

As This Is What Happy Looks Like progress the chapters have emails proceeding them, of what happy looks like from both Ellie and Graham, which gives us glimpses into what things they like.  I loved this idea, it breaks the chapters up nicely, but also brings you back to their initial meeting point and who they where before meeting in person.  The secrets that Ellie tried so hard to hide are eventually revealed and my heart broke for her.  Having to live with this secret, a whole new identity, and not be able to tell anyone must have been so hard on herself and her Mum, when it is eventually revealed it was like a sigh of relief for me, but I was nervous as to how she would be treated and accepted by others for it.  As everything goes with famous people, Graham's relationship with Ellie soon gets out into the public and I really admire him for trying to protect Ellie from the publicity.

Once again Jennifer has wrote a book that not only draws you in, but keeps hold right to the very last page.  The characters are easy to love and easy to become emotionally invested in.  The setting of This Is What Happy Looks Like sounds amazing and I would definitely want to visit a place like that.

This Is What Happy Looks Like gives us examples of what makes Ellie and Graham happy.  To me happy looks like a massive comfy bed full of soft covers and lots of pillows, a vanilla coffee that never runs out, a large pile of books to read at my pleasure and an amazing picturesque view of hilltops and trees covered in snow.

What does happy look like to you?

1 comment:

  1. Great review, Michelle. It sounds like a fabulous read.


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