Book Review: This is What Happy Looks Like

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This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Published on April 2nd 2013 by Headline
Genre: Contemporary, romance, YA
404 pgs

Goodreads Summary:

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?


Hi, this is Faith and welcome to Sublime Reads!

Hopefully, you’ve been having a nice day so far! If not, then rest assured that there will be new days to come and start over 🙂 

Let me start by saying that I know I judge books by their cover. Not necessarily in a bad way though. I use covers to help me decide what genre I’m currently feeling, so I guess it isn’t really judging. This book’s cover was pretty nice but it’s typically not the type of book I’d immediately reach for. Personally, I’ve never read anything by Jennifer E. Smith but that day, I was feeling something lighter and fluffier than all the other books I was currently reading. So I picked up “This is What Happy Looks Like” and it definitely delivered some happy vibes! 

Graham and Ellie’s relationship basically started with an accidental email and their conversations are witty, cute, innocent and I loved them. So when I read on and realized that the email exchange was only in the first few pages of the book, I was pretty surprised and disappointed.

A stereotypical kind of cute

 In general, their relationship was simple and honest. There wasn’t really any doubt as to how they felt about each other and this book also radiated summer vibes. Maybe it’s because it’s getting chillier up here so  when I started reading this book, I was immediately feeling cozier… Weird but true.

But, after Graham and Ellie had met, it was as if they didn’t need to keep in touch with their emails anymore. This got me wondering: with the whole situation of Graham lugging around a tow of paparazzi and Ellie not being able to show her face in the news, wouldn’t it be perfect for them to continue emailing each other when they aren’t able to meet up? Instead, they were lamenting the fact that they couldn’t see each other and we didn’t get to see any more of their emails.

Here’s another minor detail: I think that would have worked out better if it was a text since sending an email to someone who has nearly the exact same email as someone else that you know who also happens to be your age and of the opposite gender seems a bit far-fetched. I mean, that’s the whole point of it all, the far-fetched-ness and the coincidences but getting a phone number wrong would be more likely. (Really petty, I know.)

While I was reading their emails, I was actually half expecting Graham to turn out to be a  52 year old creep who liked stalking teen girls instead of a hotshot teen celebrity that every girl wanted to keep to themselves. If this story was a lottery, then wow I guess Ellie really did hit the jackpot! On a scale of rarity, how many Pokemon cards does this situation encompass? I would think it’s rarer than a slice of completely raw meat. (At this point, everyone realizes that the review was all only leading up to these horrible puns. Oh no, they’ve found me out!)

See, I told you. Internet safety! Did anyone not teach it to them?

Despite the disappointments, I actually enjoyed “This is What Happy Looks Like”… well mainly because I was in the mood for a type of book like this to de-stress. Action packed books are great but aren’t amazing when they start contributing to your stress levels. To be really honest, if I wasn’t in the mood to read it, I may not have enjoyed it as much. I’m glad I did though! 🙂

I also couldn’t help figuring out what would happen if a celebrity just started emailing a regular girl and they just got along really well because I find that there’s this line that kind of says that famous people aren’t normal so when you do see them do “normal people things”, it’s slightly surprising.Clearly, I’ve never been famous myself (unless I’ve been lied to my entire life and the whole universe is secretly watching me) but I feel that Graham’s role as a young actor was written pretty realistically. Personality-wise, he’s a pretty regular better-than-average looking teen holed up in his house playing video games with his pet pig. 

The verdict: “This is What Happy Looks Like” was a fun read. I stayed up until 3 am to read this because I was intrigued (and because I didn’t feel like sleeping… whoops) so if you’re feeling intrigued too or if you’re up for a bit of summer vibes at the start of a chilly winter, then give it a shot! 

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Thanks for reading my review! 🙂

~ Faith

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: This is What Happy Looks Like

  1. Casey says:

    I just posted my review of this book, and while I found many flaws and disappointments on my own, you just pointed out many more that I hadn’t even realized! 😛 I agree that this book was kind of a “cozy” read, but I don’t really know if it was worth the read… If you’re looking for something else cozy, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han is SUPER CUTE! I highly recommend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sublimereads says:

      Haha, I know! ;P Sometimes when I read other peoples’ reviews I find flaws that I haven’t thought of before and sometimes I just go noooooo because it just sort of degrades my view on the book. Yea, I also think it was a kind of shallow read and ACTUALLY I did pick up To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before but I didn’t have a chance to actually read it before it had to be returned to the library! I will read it one day though, and I’ll probably write a review on it… so I guess I’ll see what I think of it then. Thanks for the recommendation (and the comment)!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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