{Book Review} This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

» 24 January, 2015 » 4 Star Review, 4 Stars » 2 comments

{Book Review}  This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. SmithThis Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on April 2nd 2013
Genres: Dating & Sex, Family, Film, General, Love & Romance, Performing Arts, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 416
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?

Ellie O’Neill and her mother began living in “Middle-of-Nowhere, Maine” in order to run away from a scandalous past. Because of the fear of being noticed by those who had followed her and her mother like angry vultures, Ella attempted to hide in the crowd. Graham Larkin was completely different than Ellie. Unlike Ellie, who did not have any difficulty hiding, Graham was always the center of attention. Since getting his big break in a small school production in his Californian high school, Graham’s life had been lived on the fast track. Between his face being plastered on every pop culture magazine in the country and trying to please the societal view his manager attempted to establish, Graham’s life had become a façade. Their meeting was by slight chance and a lot of intervention, but it was what both of them needed—someone to hold his or her secrets without the threat or weight of knowing who he or she really was. But when happenstance brings them together, having known each other better than they knew themselves complicated their relationship in ways they hadn’t put into consideration.


“And just like that, he understood the power of the Internet. There was something intoxicating in the anonymity of it all.”


How many can admit to an addiction to Gilmore Girls at one point in their life? Throughout this novel, I read traces that reminded me of the mother-daughter connection and small town feel that the show had. Whereas Ellie’s mother does not have a large part in the novel, her love for her daughter played a significant role in the plot. Their relationship, even though it is not visited often, adds to Ellie’s depth and relatable nature. The chapters told in Ellie’s perspective offered different views and perspectives on the world than the chapters that follow Graham. Graham’s character has relatable qualities as well, just differently because he does not have well-established relationships. I liked the alternating views, especially when the circumstances were presented by both of the characters and his or her thoughts on the topic.


Graham and Ellie had an interesting beginning to their relationship, and it proceeded happier than most stories with this start would. In a manner of speaking, it was too good to be true; however, that was what made the story so addictive. Unlike most stories, where the couple spends most of the story together in some fashion—whether it be friendship or in a relationship—and then face a test of how much they care, Ellie couldn’t decide how to proceed. She did not have tunnel vision when it came to Graham and looked at their relationship on a broader scale, so she could keep her family and herself safe. Graham, since coming into fame, had everything he needed or wanted, and Ellie presented herself as a welcomed challenge. I enjoyed Graham’s protective attitude toward their situation and that he wanted nothing more than for her to be happy. Even though not having her in his life made him miserable, he only wanted her happiness.


“’There are different kinds of happy… Some kinds don’t need any proof.’”


This was a Contemporary Young Adult novel, so the couple’s blossoming relationship and growing into his or herself were the focal points. It was a quick and light read, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves an addictive love story. This is the first Jennifer E. Smith book that I have read, and after reading this one, I will not hesitate to read another.


“Maybe growing up was really nothing more than growing away: from your old life, from your old self, from all those things that kept you tethered to your past.”

Moriah (1)

2 Responses to “{Book Review} This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith”

  1. Sam

    I loved this book! I never wanted it to end. But then again, I love all JE Smith’s books.