Publisher: Headline Book Publishing
Publication date: 4th April 2013.
My rating: 3.5 stars
If fate sent you an email, would you answer? In This is What Happy Looks Like, Jennifer E. Smith's new YA novel, perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O'Neill meet—albeit virtually—when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an email about his pet pig, Wilbur. In the tradition of romantic movies like "You've Got Mail" and "Sleepless in Seattle," the two 17-year-olds strike up an email relationship, even though they live on opposite sides of the country and don't even know each other's first names. Through a series of funny and poignant messages, Graham and Ellie make a true connection, sharing intimate details about their lives, hopes and fears. But they don't tell each other everything; Graham doesn't know the major secret hidden in Ellie's family tree, and Ellie is innocently unaware that Graham is actually a world-famous teen actor living in Los Angeles. When the location for the shoot of Graham's new film falls through, he sees an opportunity to take their relationship from online to in-person, managing to get the production relocated to picturesque Henley, Maine, where Ellie lives. But can a star as famous as Graham have a real relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie's mom want her to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?
This is What Happy Looks was a super cute book about two strangers being brought together by an e-mail being sent to the wrong e-mail address. Before you know it Ellie and Graham are sending e-mails back and forth to each other for the next few weeks. Ellie doesn’t know Graham’s name and that he’s a famous actor, but he’s the only person she’s ever opened up to. She finds it easy to talk to him and tell him things about him she’s never told anyone before. Ellie’s not had the best life, she and her mum moved to Maine when their shady past was brought out into the limelight. Her mum doesn’t want that sort of attention so uprooted Ellie when she was little and moved her to a quiet Maine. So while Ellie’s enjoying talking to Graham via e-mail on a regular basis, she doesn’t expect him to turn up at Maine with a big production company ready to film his latest up and coming movie. Can Ellie accept Graham for who he really is when she’s hidden away for so long?
After a few mix-ups Ellie finally comes face to face with Graham and she’s in for a surprise as he wasn’t what she was expecting, she feels like she’s been made a fool of, but he’s been the only one she’s ever been able to connect to, so is she going to blow off the relationship (whatever it is) over a few pesky paparazzi?
I initially adored the e-mails that went back and forth between Graham and Ellie, they were adorable funny but most of all honest. It’s where they shared their inner most fears and dreams never expecting to meet the person in real life. But then when Graham arrived at Maine, the e-mails started withering down to nothing. I think I would have much preferred the e-mails to continue through the course of the book as both characters made many mistakes which could have probably been cleared up quicker if they’d have just communicated properly in the first place.
Both characters had awkward pasts which brought them together in the first place. They were both at a place in life where they still wanted something else. Graham thought he had everything as he was a big high flying actor but he was always alone in his grand old house and his relationship with his parents wasn’t that great. Ellie and her mum were just able to scrape by, they had a shop which was doing okay, but when something broke down they had to just manage. Ellie had wanted to go on a writer’s course but as it had no scholarship, she had to make her own money; she didn’t want to ask her mum especially after everything that had happened. So just having this correspondence with each other through e-mail brightened up their day.
I did like this cute relationship which was developing between Graham and Ellie, with the way their lives were, they deserved that bit of happiness. But I had a hard time connecting to either character. I did feel for them at times, the heartache they had to experience, but there was never anything which they did which left a great impression with me. Everything about them and their relationship was cute but other than that it wasn’t anything memorable.
Also characters which dither about frustrate me hugely. They had been talking for weeks and so knew they felt something towards each other, but just didn’t do anything about it until later. I understand Ellie was worried about her past being brought up, but really if you know the guy you like is going to be around just for a few weeks wouldn’t you want to make the most of your time together?
This is What Happy Looks Like was a book which I had really high hopes for, but it just really fell flat in places, I found myself forcing to read for the sake of reading and not because I was actually enjoying it. However I’m sure I will be in the minority with my feelings about this book as most readers will be sure to devour it right up, so please don’t let my review put you off in giving it a go.
As This is What Happy Looks Like didn't really work out for me, I've decided to give my copy away. This giveaway will be international and you can enter by filling out the rafflecopter form below. Good luck everyone!
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