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I Belong

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

Title: This Is What Happy Looks Like

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

GenreYA Contemporary


Publication DateApril 2, 2013

FormatHardcover, 416 Pages

ISBN-100316212822 (Poppy/LB Teen)

ISBN-13978-0316212823 (Poppy/LB Teen)

Reviewed by: Bridget


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?

Quick & Dirty: This was a cute YA contemporary read, with fun characters and an adorable romance story.

Opening Sentence: Hey, we’re running pretty behind here.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review

Ellie O’Neill is 16 years old and she lives in a small town in Maine.  She has been living there ever since she was 4 years old with her mom.  She loves her life in her small town where she works at an ice-cream shop and helps her mom run their little souvenir shop.  During the summer their quaint little town gets quite a few tourists, but this summer they have a movie being filmed there and some big stars are coming to town.  A few months back Ellie received an email that was sent to the wrong address.  It was from a boy that lives in California that has a pet pig named Wilbur.  They soon strike up an internet friendship and they are emailing every day.  Ellie enjoys the mystery that comes with the relationship and she finds herself anticipating talking to internet boy more and more.  Then she finally meets him and he is not at all what she expected.

Graham Larkin is a 17 year old movie star living in L.A.  He grew up poor, but he was lucky to get a scholarship to a private school.  He decided to try out for a school play and he ended up landing a small part in a major movie.  From there his career skyrocketed, and now he is a very sought after actor.  Graham never realized how lonely his life would be after becoming famous, so when he accidentally emails a girl from a small town in Maine he savors the idea that she doesn’t know who he is.  Soon Graham finds himself falling for a girl he has never even met.  His current movie doesn’t have a location to shoot, and he finds the perfect opportunity to finally travel to the small town of Henley, Maine and meet the girl of his dreams.

This book alternated between Ellie and Graham’s point of view.  Ellie is a really sweet girl, but she has some emotional scars from her past.  She loves poetry and has her heart set on attending an Ivy league college, but money has always been tight.  When she meets Graham she really starts to fall for him, but she has some secrets from her past that she really doesn’t want publicized and Graham is right in the middle of the public eye.  She will have to decide if giving up love is worth keeping her secrets.  I really liked Ellie most of the time.  She really tries to help and protect the people she loves and she sacrifices a lot for them.

Graham is a totally swoon worthy boy.  He has the good looks, money, fame, but under that there is a lonely boy that has a very vulnerable side.  When he became famous his life changed drastically.  All of his friends from school stopped talking to him and his relationship with his parents became awkward.  He loves his career and once you go past a certain point there is no going back.  I loved Graham, he is such a great character with lots of depth.  You get to see his awesome actor side, but there are other times where you get to see the real Graham.  He is so cute with Ellie and it’s great to see their love blossom.

I really enjoyed this book, it was really cute and a fast read.  The romance is really adorable and the author ties in a lot of other issues to make it a more interesting read.  I really loved the characters and I really felt a good connection with them.  Now going into this book I had really high expectations, I read Jennifer’s Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and I loved it.  To be honest, I didn’t quite like this book as much, but it still was a really good read.  I will defiantly be reading anything else that Jennifer writes.  I would highly recommend this to anyone that enjoys a good, clean YA contemporary book.

Notable Scene:

When he saw the sign for Sunset Drive, he slowed down and began to examine each house.  It was hard to tell the white ones from the yellow in the dusk, but as he approached a small clapboard colonial, he saw that the porch light was on.  And even he could register its color, he noticed the girl sitting curled on the swing, and he knew that he had arrived.

As he walked up the path, she looked up from her book.  The light above her small and buzzing with insects, and it reached only so far in its efforts to push back the gathering darkness.  When he stopped, she lifted her chin, craning her neck, and Graham could tell from the uncertain look in her eyes that he was only a shadow to her, a mere silhouette.

But from where he was standing, he could see her perfectly: the wavy red hair and the oversized T-shirt with a smiling lobster on the front, the way her legs were tucked up beneath her on the swing, and the freckles across her nose.  He could see her, and it was just like he’d thought.  It was just like being punched in the stomach.

FTC Advisory: Poppy/Hachette Book Group provided me with a copy of This Is What Happy Looks Like. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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