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About the book
This Is What Happy Looks Like is a stand-alone young adult novel by Jennifer E. Smith. The book is published by Headline on 4th April (HB) and 23rd October (PB) and it is 224 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a proof for review.
Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
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?
What I thought
I really enjoyed Jennifer E. Smith's first book, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight but this one sounded so much better and I couldn't wait to read it. Headline were lovely to send me a copy and there was also a great Twitter promotion of bloggers nominating other bloggers to receive a copy.
Graham and Ellie first meet through a mis-sent email. Although the email was a mistake, the pair hit it off, having a funny and witty banter between them and they carry on emailing each other, even though they don't know each other. I normally don't like books where you have to follow things like letters/ texts/ emails but luckily, this doesn't happen the whole way through the book. The emails are used only at the beginning of the book and for a few small other parts throughout. However, the emails were very cute and funny and it was a great initial way of getting to know the main characters.
After the initial emails, we get transported to middle of nowhere, Maine, where Ellie lives. What I loved so much about Ellie was that she was so down to earth and normal. She knows there is this big movie in town filming for a month and she doesn't even care about there being a hot teen actor in town - unlike her best friend Quinn. Ellie is also a lovely girl, which shows very quickly. I really liked her whole reaction to finding out who she had really been emailing. I know that most girls would throw themselves at someone like that but Ellie is not like most girls. She is reserved and a bit worried about who he is, what it all means and how he couldn't have told her before.
I have read books before with an actor has been one of the main characters. However, Graham is completely different from what I expected. His journey to fame was quite unexpected and Graham is actually very grounded. He doesn't take advantage of his fame, nor does it seem that he even enjoys it. This is what made me love him so much. All he wanted to do was meet the girl he had been emailing, to have a real conversation with someone who knows the real him. The way he went about things was a little strange though but I'll forgive him for that.
The time spent between Ellie and Graham was wonderful, with each character really getting to know the other and what they're all about. Their journey together was so nice to read about and heart-warming too. What else was great was seeing two very different people, and people from completely different worlds, coming together and learning to understand each other. Both live lives at the opposite ends of the spectrum from each other but neither was necessarily better than the other.
The plot was far from exciting although it was wonderfully sweet. This is a book that doesn't need massive, shocking things to happen in order for it to be extremely entertaining. The setting is also fabulous. The little town in Maine where Ellie lives provides a very calming setting and one which is described very well. Although the town is small, it becomes somewhere swarming with tourists during the summer and I really loved the descriptions of the little, quirky shops in town and how it is a place famous for lobster. All of these things were so helpful in order to picture where the book was set.
This Is What Happy Looks Like is the perfect story of first loves and unexpected miracles.