Monday, 6 May 2013
Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Released: April 4th, 2013
When 17-year-old Graham Larkin sends an email to a friend about his pet pig, Wilbur, the last thing he expects is a response from the other side of the country, from one Ellie O'Neill. As their online friendship blossoms, they begin to reveal more about themselves but crucially leave out the truth about Ellie's past and Graham's career as a Hollywood heartthrob. And when a new location needs to be found for Graham's next film, he jumps at the chance to visit Ellie's hometown, Henley, Maine. But, now that they're together, it's impossible to keep their secrets for long and there's a lot to overcome if love is to blossom...
This Is What Happy Looks Like is Jennifer E. Smith's eagerly awaited follow up to the brilliant Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. It's a heartwarming, sweet contemporary tale of a boy, a girl and a chance meeting through an email sent to the wrong address. Easily done, right?
I generally liked the plot, especially how some of it took place through back-and-forth emails between Ellie and Graham. It's a quick and easy format to read I think it suits this type of book. I didn't identify with the characters as much as I would have liked, and that's because the plot was slightly unbelievable to me. Famous actors never show up like that in real life (as far as I know, anyway) and it never quite convinced me. Still, it's a really fun concept and one that I could easily get past.
Ellie and Graham are likable protagonists, thanks to Ellie's normality and Graham's desire to lead a life like everyone else. They fit together well though I think they could have had a bit more chemistry, more like Hadley and Oliver in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. That's a very special book though, and not many YA romances live up to it!
This Is What Happy Looks Like isn't your average YA book. It's a lot deeper than you'd first think, with strong themes of family and friendship adding to the romance. I didn't expect it to be so serious in parts, but it gave it a while other dimension that I think readers will appreciate. It's not a fluffy story, that's for sure.
While I didn't like this one as much as The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (I really do love that book), This Is What Happy Looks Like is another great contemporary novel from Jennifer E. Smith. She could easily be the next Jennifer Echols, and I have no doubt that she's got a lot more good stuff in store for us. I'll read any and all future books of hers and I'm looking forward to seeing what she writes next. Contemporary authors of the YA world: watch out!