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

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? 

A light read. 

Yes, I should start with that point. ‘This is what happy looks like’ like it’s name may suggest, is a nice fluffy and light read. I started this book in hopes that it would make me feel something close to the lines of when I’d read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. Mmm… I’m sad to say that it didn’t. Not even close. I wasn’t able to relate to the characters at all though the way the book was written was pretty adorable.

Ah hah. A plus point. 

You can tell a lot from how two people talk to each other, whether they are close friends or something more. Jennifer had succeeded in bringing that aspect out and I’m guessing that was the main focus of the book. Just guessing.

However, I thought the romance between Graham and Ellie was too quick. In much less than a month that he’d spent with her, Jennifer had pretty much crammed a heck load of emotions, mishap and stagnation into Graham and Ellie’s relationship. I don’t know about you, but if something like that happened to me, I’d be sulking in my room for weeks, let alone get out there and risk getting myself into more trouble.

The hurdles in Graham and Ellie’s relationship were also resolved a little too easily. One good example was how Ellie’s mom had simply let everything go after Ellie had confessed she had pretty much stolen a boat with Graham to go look for her biological father, especially since Ellie’s mom was the one that didn’t want Ellie seeing Graham in the first place. I don’t know about you, but a little drama would have been nice.


Over at Graham’s side, his manager really is a magician. Being able to spin things around so that no one knew who Ellie was seemed a little far fetched to me. I mean, c’mon, Ellie lives in a small town. She has red hair, for Pete’s sake. People were bound to recognize her and call her out, right? The book made it seem like everyone just forgot about her. Turned a blind eye. I kind of expected a little negative reaction from the crowd, since they were the ones going rah-rah over Graham coming to town. Of course, when they went public, the town wouldn’t be able to say much. But nothing really happened before that. Ellie was in her little sad bubble while the crowd was… what crowd?

Gosh I’m starting to sound like a total character sadist, huh. But it’s true, isn’t it? You got to make people fight for love if not they’ll never know how to cherish the love they receive.


*cough* Character growth. I meant to say character growth.

I also didn’t really like how they totally ruled out the part where Graham has to go to collage. I felt like, Yeah, okay they managed to get together, but Graham’s gonna leave again soon. In fact he’s leaving to go back home to California. ISN’T ELLIE GOING TO DO SOMETHING????

Maybe something like:

dont go

But she doesn’t (sigh) and they decide to continue emailing (double sigh) so it’s like they were never together. Their relationship had effectively lasted one fracking day and now they’re as good as breaking up.

I thought I’d feel more like:


But it turned into something like:

You see?! Character growth and development is VERY IMPORTANT!!!

Overall, 3/5 stars. The book did make me feel fuzzy at some parts and I thought the way it was presented (emails and all) was pretty cool. The book wasn’t entirely bad, it just didn’t end as well.

Oh well. :/ Till next time.


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