Publication Date: 4/2/13
Source: Received from publisher for review
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. Just as they did in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, the hands of fate intervene in wondrous ways in this YA novel that delivers on high concept romance in lush and thoughtful prose.
This is What Happy Looks Like was surprising, to me. I read a review yesterday by Jen YA Romantics, that described it as a mix of You've Got Mail, Notting Hill, and What a Girl Wants. That's about as accurate of a description as I could ever hope to come up with.
What was surprising for me about This is What Happy Looks Like is that it was, hmm... underwhelming. Don't get me wrong, it was sweet, and charming. I liked the characters, but there was not a lot to keep me hooked. In fact, I put this down for three days because I got swept away in another series that was full of fun and passion and angst, highs and lows. And in comparison, this was just nice.
Smith is obviously an extremely talented author. I absolutely adored The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. I raved about it to all my friends for months, and credit it with making me love a boy named Oliver. Maybe that has caused me to judge this book a little too much. And though I liked Ellie and Graham, their portrayals were just sort of flat. I understood were they were coming from with their feelings and questions about their lives, but they didn't feel fully developed. I almost felt a true attachment to them and their story at certain points, the epic was just within reach, but then the story would move along and the feeling went away. Also, I would have like a least a smidge more resolution in the ending.
This Is What Happy Looks Like was a good, if underwhelming, story. I did like it, but will also say that I never fell in love with it. And I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading it, but I would also say to maybe be prepared to not be swept away.
"I'm sorry--" she began, but that was as far as she got, because Graham couldn't wait any longer. He leaned in, his lips meeting hers, which tasted fairly of peanut butter, and he closed his eyes, and he held her by the shoulders, and he kissed her.
It was exactly as he'd thought it would be, like the first time and the millionth time all at once, like being wide awake, like losing his balance. Only this time, it wasn't just him; this time they were losing their balance together. ~ eARC, 44%
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I just reviewed this one, too! I actually really enjoyed it, very charming and a fun little scenario, but yeah, nothing groundbreaking. It would definitely make a great summery beach read. I like Ellie's character background and the whole dilemma with her dad. And the ending---well, in a way I felt same as you did, wishing for a little more resolution, but when I rehashed it in my mind, I was kind of glad it ended the way it did. Seemed more real, with no promises of happily ever after.ReplyDelete
Glad you still like it despite a few quirks! :)
I'm kinda bummed that this wasn't great. I'm sure I'll still read it at some point though. Great review!ReplyDelete
I totally agree with you Andrea. I had expected this epic, sweet lovestory because of all I had heard about her last book but this just felt kind of bleh. You're right about the greatness feeling as though it was right around the corner though, I got that feeling a lot too. I haven't read her first book and still plan to, it seems like everyone loved that one. Fabulous review!ReplyDelete
Every review I have read for this book makes me so disappointed. I loved TSPoLaFS so I had high hopes for this one. It seems to be just okay to most people. I'm glad that you still enjoyed it, but it's too bad it wasn't quite as great as you were expecting.ReplyDelete
I was expecting more too. I LOVED TSPoLaFS and this one...wasn't that. I think you actually liked it better than I did. But it looks like we agree for the most part.ReplyDelete
Love being review twins! :)
I actually felt this way about TSPoLaFS. I liked it overall, and thought it was a cute read, but it didn't quite wow me. Still, I'm glad you enjoyed this well enough. Great review, Andrea!ReplyDelete
Ah, I'm sorry this one fell flat for you, Andrea. And it's premise was so promising! I'm glad you still enjoyed it even though it wasn't a WOW. :)ReplyDelete
I like your honesty. I hate that expectations ruin so much for us. It makes me frustrated - I disliked Deity, because the hype was so big, but it was an ordinary performance by JLA, not anything extraordinary imo. This one I was looking forward to, but it seems that everyone just kinda likes it rather than loves it. I need to have a ton of chemistry for me to really enjoy a book and I hmhh.. I'm just taken aback I guess. I hope next one by Jennifer Smith works out better for you. Lovely review!ReplyDelete
Aw. I just read Valerie's review (STuck in Books) of this one, and she felt very similar to you--that the characters were too flat. This saddens me b/c I was so looking forward to it! I haven't read Statistical PRobability, so maybe I'll read that instead.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the honest review Andrea!ReplyDelete
These covers just seem so cheesy to me. People rave about the books but the covers and summaries sound kind of childish to me. I don’t think this book is for me…ReplyDelete
Cool review. Everyone seems to be saying that this is a super-light fluffy book. So many people loved Statistical Prob. that they probably had really high expectations for this one. I didn't love Statistical Prob. that much (I thought it was cute), so I think I may actually have a shot at liking this one.ReplyDelete
I have heard very mixed things about this book, but I'm not sure if it is a book for me. Sorry it fell flat for you. Thanks for the honest review.ReplyDelete
Thank you for this honest review! Still gonna read it to see what you mean :)ReplyDelete
I love the honest review. I kind of felt like you're describing for The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, I liked it, but I wasn't blown away. But I am excited to read This is What Happy Looks Like, I read the first chapter or two somewhere and I liked it.ReplyDelete
The description actually reminds me a lot of Tammara Weber's Good For You, which I really liked, but that was character driven so if the characters fall flat in this one I don't know if I'll enjoy it as much.
Maggie, it's so funny you mentioned Tammara's Between the Lines series. I actually told my BFF that with the leading guy being an actor named Graham, I couldn't help but compare. Between the Lines is beyond comparison.Delete
I was really looking forward to reading this series--now, not so much! After reading yours and so many others with similar feelings, I kinda don't want too. Great review!ReplyDelete
I'm so disappointed to hear this, Andrea! I really enjoyed TSPofLatFS but I hated the parents, so it took away from my overall enjoyment. This has such a wonderful premise that I was really excited to pick it up. Oh well, great review! :)ReplyDelete
I've had my eye on this one, but everyone seems to have the same experience with it: it's just okay. I suppose I'll have to wait until Stephanie Perkins' ISLA to get my swoony Contemporary YA fix.ReplyDelete
This caught me, "You've Got Mail, Notting Hill, and What a Girl Wants." But underwhelming didn't. :( The cover didn't grab me either. Usually if I put a book down for 3 days I don't pick it back up. You have reading commitment of steel woman! :) I'm sure others loves it. We all have preferences.ReplyDelete
Ohh! The way you're describing this one, is kind of how I felt when I read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. I'm looking forward to this one, just because I think I'm going to really enjoy it. Great review!!ReplyDelete
I really liked this when I started reading it; I thought the emails were cute. But then I put it aside for awhile, and I can't really get back into it. Glad to hear I'm not alone in being underwhelmed by this. Thinking of DNFing. Thanks for your honest review! :-)ReplyDelete
I have been reading really similar opinions on this book and it really makes me wonder what went so wrong because most people are finding it a bit meh!ReplyDelete
bummer, Underwhelming doesn't sound promising. :/ I think I will still get it, but maybe I'll wait for a kindle sale. Sometimes it's nice to read a book that's not full of highs and lows.ReplyDelete