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

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Paperback, 416 pages
Published April 2nd, 2013 by Headline
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
How I Read It: I bought it
Rating: 3 Stars

For my rating system, please click here

Blurb (from the book): It’s June – seventeen-year-old Ellie O’Neill’s least favourite time of year.  Her tiny hometown is annually invaded by tourists, and this year there’s the added inconvenience of a film crew.  Even the arrival of Hollywood heart-throb Graham Larkin can’t lift her mood.  

But there is something making Ellie very happy.  Ever since an email was accidentally sent to her months ago, she’s been corresponding with a mysterious stranger, the two of them sharing their hopes and fears.  Their developing relationship is not without its secrets though – there’s the truth about Ellie’s past…and her pen pal’s real identity.  When they finally meet in person, things are destined to get much more complicated.  Can two people, world’s apart but bought together by chance, make it against all odds? 


The cover and the title peaked my interest with this book, so I’m a little bit disappointed with the end result.  My biggest issue with this book is that it’s just so corny.  I know that the blurb, the title and the cover insinuate a love story, and I’m not averse to that by any means, but she falls in ‘like’ with a guy she accidentally meets over email and he turns out to be a celebrity.  Really?  In saying that, I did rate it a 3, so it obviously had some redeeming qualities for me.

What I enjoyed about This Is What Happy Looks Like is that the story wasn’t just about ‘Graham Larkin – Celebrity’.  It could have easily focused on his famous life and become a gushing teenage read about his crooked smile and perfectly messy hair.  But props to Jennifer E. Smith, she made sure there was more to the story than that.  Ellie has her own problems to deal with and, by telling the story in alternating perspectives, we get a glimpse into both of their very different worlds.

I also liked that it was an easy story to read and that the characters were likeable.  I didn’t have to sit through another ‘bad-boy meets good-girl and changes his ways’ story, which also would have been an easy writing trap to fall into.  I think it was well written, I didn’t have to struggle through it to finish and I found it enjoyable enough.  I would say that This Is What Happy Looks Like is a perfect summer holiday read.  And really, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of a fluff read every now and then.  It gives my feels a bit of a break.

But at the end of the day, while it was an easy read and I enjoyed it for what it was, I couldn’t get past the whole ‘celebrity’ thing.  And it was a just a little bit too neat and perfect for my taste.

– Annette


2 thoughts on “Annette Reviews: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

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