Summary from GoodReads:
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?
There is something about Jennifer E. Smith’s books that makes them both sweet and adorable, and at the same time a little deeper than you would expect. When I read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight more than a year ago, I was surprised that the story focused so much on Hadley’s (the main character) relationship with her father. So I knew going into This is What Happy Looks Like, that there would be more to the story that an actor and a teen girl from Maine falling for each other. Although a lot of it is about Ellie and Graham, there’s lots more to it, too.
Ellie is a very likable, relatable character. She’s smart, ambitious, and an all-around nice person. She’s your average teenage girl. So no one is more surprised than her when Graham Larkin, famous teen actor, shows up on her porch explaining that he’s the one she’s been emailing for months. Ellie is flabbergasted (I always wanted to use that word), but she’s never starstruck. That’s something that I loved about Ellie. I mean, of course she is a bit overwhelmed by Graham’s life style, and definitely by the paparazzi that follow his every step. But she doesn’t look at Graham like he’s God’s gift to mankind. Of course, that’s what Graham likes about Ellie.
And Graham! I really, really liked him! I even admit to liking his parts in the story more than Ellie’s, which doesn’t usually happen for me. He’s just so nice. And he’s insecure at times, and sometimes doesn’t know how to handle all the results of his becoming a star. He’s even a little bashful when he first hangs out with Ellie for the first time. It’s just so sweet. Graham’s rise to fame has strained things with his family, though, and Graham has become incredibly lonely. Of course, his loneliness makes him really appreciate Ellie.
The story was pretty simple, and I don’t mean that as a bad thing. It’s not a story with twists and turns around every corner. It’s a story that focuses on the actions of everyday (well, everyday people that include movie stars!) people. It’s sweet, and real, and just so great. I do have to say that this is the second book by Jennifer E. Smith that does involve the main character’s father being a bit of a let down. It does make me feel a little sad. I mean, I know I could never have completely forgiven my father had he done what Hadley’s had done in Statistical. And Ellie’s father is definitely not all that great. Luckily my dad would never do anything like that.
Anyway, This is What Happy Looks Like was a wonderful sophomore novel. Jennifer E. Smith continues to provide sweet stories about wonderful characters. Do not miss this one!