Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Book Review: This is What Happy Looks Like

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? Quoted from Goodreads


This novel is just cute. It's the dream every girl's had at least once.  It's the perfect read for you summer vacation.  It's light, and as the title suggests, what happy looks like.

First, I absolutely love this cover.  I love the smiling, yellow happy, the sunrise cover silhouetting the two people on the boat.  I love the color scheme, simple and striking.  It's one of those covers that practically screams read me.  Any book that gets this cover must be absolutely amazing.

Okay, now on to the real story.  It starts off with e-mails, but rapidly turns into the story, alternating POV between Graham and Ellie.  Maybe I don't read enough straight up contemporary YA romances, but that was  refreshing for me.  We get both sides of the story.  Not just your Cinderella type, small town girl falling in love with big time actor, but we see why he falls for Ellie.  We get both of their issues, what makes each of them fall for the other, and their insecurities.  Plus, with Graham's POV, we get to experience both the ups and downs of what it's like to be famous.  It's reminds you that no matter how fairytale the setup of the story, it's not all fun and games.  It changes him, but not in the way you would immediately think, which is why he is drawn to Ellie in the first place. Then there's Ellie. She's so likable in the way she handles everything with Graham.  She has her own issues, which cause a good portion of the conflict in this book, but not in a ridiculous, drama filled way.  Despite the fantastical setup, the whole story comes across as grounded in reality.

I also enjoy how both characters families and friends play a pivotal role in their lives.  It isn't just a story about two people who fall in love in a bubble where the rest of the world fades away.  Ellie's mother is a very real character, as (to a lesser extent) are Graham's parents.   Then there's Ellie's friends, Graham's agent, director, costars, etc.  It adds depth to the book, making it seem like this fairytale could really happen.

Finally, Jennifer E. Smith is just a plain good writer.  You can't help but get sucked into the world she creates, immerse yourself in the small town, and love the characters. I especially liked the e-mails at the beginning of the each chapter, which help move the story along, somewhat, and remind you of how Ellie and Graham first met.  Plus, they're just cute.

All in all, this is a fun, 4 stars for me. It's simple, yet beautifully done, fantastical setup, yet grounded in reality.  If you're looking for a fun, light, happy romance, this is it. 

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