Date of Publication: April 2, 2013
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?
Review:I hate to be the downer, especially with such an anticipated book, but what can I do; I'm disappointed.
I had my first taste of Jennifer E. Smith's writing in her debut novel, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, which I enjoyed and it earned a few more brownie points as John Green enjoyed and recommended it too. (DFTBA!) As a result, I had expectations for this book. Nothing too extravagant, just a genuine belief that Smith would come though.
One of the criticisms for her debut was the short length but with This is What Happy Looks Like, I felt the biggest problem was the length. It was too long. The plot, story and characters were not round or developed enough to last 400 pages. After the first 100 pages the story hit a snag and it was a downward spiral from there. There was no real momentum driving the plot forward, there was one storyline and it took 400 pages to complete it.
First the plot. It is simple; girl meets boy, boy is a superstar and girl has a past. It sounds great for a fun, no thought required read, but sometimes even those need a little bit of thought or else they feel bland; uninteresting. That's what happened with this one. I think Smith tried to use the cliche, as she did with her debut and really spin a story that doesn't feel like it. But it felt cliche, it felt unrealistic and that's a problem with contemporary. I expect a little bit of realism even if it's fiction and a lot of wishful thinking.
As for the characters, loved Graham and Ellie for the first 100 pages and then they didn't grow enough for me to continue to like them. Graham was too perfect to a fault. He was too "not into the scene", too "complete nice guy" which ended up reducing the amount of depth one saw in his personality. As for Ellie, I didn't find her interesting at all and I don't know what more to say. I didn't connect with her, I didn't care what happened to her.
Overall, it really is a cute concept and story but in my opinion it's good if you're looking for something with no real thought. It's light, fun, summery. I wish there was more depth and more plot but it is what it is and many have enjoyed it. The question is, is this one for you? It wasn't for me.