Friday, March 29, 2013

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

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This Is What Happy Looks Like
Jennifer E. Smith
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication date: April 2nd 2013
by Poppy

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?

A copy was provided by Hachette Book Group Canada for review

If you want a read that leaves a smile on your face, This Is What Happy Looks Like is the perfect choice! A sweet romance, a small town, and fun characters make this a great summer read that you should definitely bring on vacation!

A modern day fairy tale is what this story is, really. It’s not the kind of love story that’s particularly believable–no one accidentally pen pals a stranger who ends up being a movie star–but if you enjoy those lightweight romance books where the story is more of a dream than anything, this one fits the bill. It’s fun for a different reason; instead of being a love story that burns with the fierce realness of two people who fall in love, Jennifer goes into almost every teenage girl’s dream and plucks the most famous movie star into the arms of your every day small town girl. You will likely find yourself pondering on what this would actually be like, which is fun, you have to admit! Getting to see Graham’s POV also brings up what it truly means to be famous. Not the glamorous red carpet side, but how nothing you ever do can be private, and no one truly knows the real you–he even feels like a stranger in his own family. I liked how his side of the story was just as developed as Ellie’s, showing us his true feelings toward his stardom; he does not rejoice being recognized by the masses. While it’s impossible to relate to that lifestyle (at least for most), it’s easy to understand how not all of it is dazzling. It was nice that Ellie wasn’t the star struck fan that some might expect, as well. She was basically unperturbed by stars in her town–at least until she finds out who, exactly, her email buddy is. But she wasn’t pretentious about the relationship at all which made her character very likeable; how many do you know who would not immediately blast Facebook with their relationship had it been them? She actually had her reasons for wanting it to be kept on the down low which creates more than a few bumps along the road between these two. Although, it remains a lighthearted read nonetheless.

Like every small town, the people who reside in it know everyone else, this makes for a small but lively cast of side characters, as well as a great small town atmosphere which I genuinely felt throughout. Being from a tiny town not so different than Ellie’s, I easily found myself roaming the streets along with her, enjoying the family owned quirky shops and town events. This small town garners more than just romance, too. We have some family issues that are visited throughout the story, friendship quibbles with her best friend, along with a scandal or two. Not everything is complicated, though; I especially loved Ellie and her mother’s relationship. They have an easy going dynamic where they can actually talk to each other; no unconcerned parenting or melodramatics involved. And to add a great touch of charm to the story, we get snippets of emails between Ellie and Graham at the beginning of every chapter which I thought was a great way to keep the romance in the air.

Light, charming, funny, and sweet, this is one you pick up when you simply want to escape into a romantic lala-land! In short, this book is what happy looks like! — You know I had to! 😉

4 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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30 Responses to “Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith”

  1. Amy

    This sounds like a really fun and sweet book!! I really want to get this one. I loved TSPoLaFS and have been eagerly awaiting another book by her. Great review babe!!

  2. wajiha1993

    The cover of this book is gorgeous!! Famous movie star + small town girl, this sounds to be my type of book 🙂 Really love your review.. I’ll be checking out this book, thanks!

  3. Micheline D

    Oh wonderful! I just read a similar review over at Recovering Potter Addict – she said it was a perfect beach read! I’m going to keep an eye out for this one, especially for the Summer months 😀 Sometimes something light & sweet is just what you need!

    Sweet review!!

  4. SweetMarie83

    I’ve been pining for this book for so long! It sounds really cute, and it’s nice to read those lighthearted stories once in awhile and not always ones with huge issues that break your heart (not that I don’t love those books too!). Great review, Giselle. 🙂

    ~Marie @ Ramblings of a Daydreamer

  5. Alexa Y.

    I’m very excited to read this book! I love Jennifer’s books, and the way she writes. This one sounds like it’ll be such a fun read, and something to look forward to for sure 🙂

  6. Michelle

    Great review!! I thought Statisical Prob. was cute and really am looking forward to seeing if this one is too! It sounds like it is, but yes that whole “my accidental pen pal is a celebrity” sounds highly improbable and usually I don’t like it when stuff happens in books that would just never happened. BUT I think I could overlook that because after reading your review it doesn’t sound like it takes itself to seriously.

  7. Jennifer Bielman

    OMG, this does sound sweet. I actually did Pen Pal someone by accident about 15 years ago. She lives in England. We still write each other all the time.

    I so need a book to put a smile on my face right now.

  8. Kat Balcombe

    Ah I love stories set in small towns, they are so much more intimate!

    I really enjoyed Smith’s last book, so I’m definitely interested to read this one. Great review 😀

  9. Aneeqah

    Eeep, I am so excited for this one! I’m dying for it simply because I want something light, cute, and adorable, and I’m glad that’s exactly what this book ended up being. The fact that we get to see Graham’s point of view is pretty cool, and I’m excited for the depth that I think it’ll add. And yay for Ellie not being some startstruck fan!

    I’m definitely excited for this one even more than I was before. Lovely review, Giselle! <3

  10. Aman

    I read the Amazon preview of forst few chapters and I really liked the email exchange between the characters. It was so cute and I particularly don’t like the superstar-actor-meets-normal-girl relation but I’m still going to give it a try.
    Fab review, Giselle 🙂

  11. Molli

    Nice review, Giselle. Love your end-pun. 😉 I have been looking forward to the reviews of this one, because I bought TSPOLAFS on my Nook and have been wanting to make time for it soon-ish. So I’m glad this was a win for you, and one of those sweet reads that lets you escape. You really made me wish I had requested it, but I’ll make it a library read.

  12. malvoliosStockings

    I don’t read these light reads too often but it sounds like the perfect book for when you need a change of pace. I’ll definitely keep it in mind for when i need a happy fix.