books and reading · reviews

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

It’s fate when movie star (and teen heartthrob) Graham Larkin accidentally sends an email to Ellie O’Neill, a small-town girl living in coastal Maine.  The two of them strike up a witty email relationship, and they do so without ever revealing their names.  Then Graham shows up in Ellie’s town to film a movie, and everything between them changes.  Can someone as famous as Graham really fall for a girl as small-town as Ellie?  And can Ellie handle being in the spotlight?

I had every reason to love this cute, warm romance that is actually perfect for summer reading.  Jennifer E. Smith writes fun, witty dialogue and vivid characters, and the romance between Ellie and Graham is well-developed, believable, and easy to root for.  And yet, something about this one fell flat for me.  However, this is a case where I believe the lack of chemistry between the book and myself is my fault as a reader.  Sometimes you’re not in the right place for a book.  This was one of those times.

There’s so much here that readers will love and absolutely eat up.  The story’s central premise is the stuff of ultimate fantasy, and while it is incredibly far-fetched, Smith manages to sell it beautifully.  Ellie and Graham’s chemistry is undeniable, and while their relationship is a little chaste (and sometimes feels a little too perfect) for my taste, it’ll satisfy readers of all sorts.

Smith excels at creating real, memorable characters, and fans of her debut won’t be disappointed with her follow-up.  I can’t stress the fact that this is perfect reading for those long, hot summer days.  Recommended.

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith.  Poppy: 2013. Library copy.

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