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

This Is What Happy Looks LikeTitle: This Is What Happy Looks Like

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Publisher: Headline

Publication Date: October 2013

Paperback: 404 pages

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Bought

Check out the summary on Goodreads

What I thought:

I enjoyed this one so much that I bought myself a copy of it because I know I’ll want to read it again (also, I’m glad I had it so I could get it signed when I met and interviewed Jen!).

I’ve read some reviews of this book that criticized it because supposedly nothing happens. This is not true. No, it is not action packed and full of twists and turns and blah blah blah. But it is a sweet, adorable book that fills you up from the inside with all its cute. I smiled a lot while reading this book and I love that. It made me feel content. I wasn’t worried about the fact that it wasn’t a rollercoaster of action because I just felt good while reading it.

Ellie gets an email from a mysterious “G” who’s sent the email to her on accident. The two end up chatting back and forth from across the country and a connection grows between them. When Graham Larkin, a relatively new celebrity, shows up in Ellie’s small town to film his new movie, it turns out Ellie’s mysterious “G” is Graham – who moved his movie’s filming location to Ellie’s small town after she told him where she lived. Okay, a little stalker-ish but unbelievably cute.

I really liked both of these characters; Ellie didn’t take any crap from Graham or let him off the hook for anything just because he was a celebrity. She teased him for it and he just loved it. Their banter was hilarious and cute and I loved reading it. The characters both felt whole to me, fully developed with separate personalities, so it was easy to tell whose chapter was whose (each chapter is written in third person but with a focus on either Ellie or Graham). I think I connected a little more with Ellie, probably because I’m not a famous person and I’m a girl. Haha. But I enjoyed both of these characters.

The emails between Graham and Ellie were my favorite part though. The book starts off with their first email exchange and some of their emails back and forth for the next several months. Once the actual chapters begin, we get at least one new email between the two at the beginning of each chapter. I really like when authors have other means of communication between characters (letters, emails, texts, diary entries, etc.). I think it adds another layer to the book to allow us to get to know the characters even more.

Okay, occasionally I felt a little like, “Why is this scene necessary?” or “Dang, this is so cheesy,” but not once did I want to stop reading. Sometimes you just need a book that is so unashamedly adorable and cheesy and sweet, and This Is What Happy Looks Like was just that for me.

POTENTIAL SPOILER. SORT OF. Some people didn’t like the ending of this book, but I really did. Real life isn’t wrapped up with a nice little bow. Everything doesn’t get resolved. There are always problems to be solved and things to work around. I found the ending to the book to be really refreshing.

The bottom line: If you’re looking for a book with really adorable characters, no insta-love, and some sweet romance, check this out. Good for people who love movies or small towns, open endings or lovely beginnings. If you don’t need a book that has action on every page but rather gives you a feeling of contentedness and makes you smile, This Is What Happiness Looks Like is probably for you. I know I said sweet about 275384245 times in this review, but this book is just that. Rot-your-teeth-out, give-you-diabetes sweet.

Rating: 7.5 – between pretty good and freaking fantastic

Reading next: Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday