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

Title: This is What Happy Looks Like
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit
Publisher: Headline Fiction
Publication Date: April 2012
Pages: 416
Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis (goodreads):
When 17-year-old Graham Larkin sends an email to a friend about his pet pig, Wilbur, the last thing he expects is a response from the other side of the country, from one Ellie O’Neill. As their online friendship blossoms, they begin to reveal more about themselves but crucially leave out the truth about Ellie’s past and Graham’s career as a Hollywood heartthrob. And when a new location needs to be found for Graham’s next film, he jumps at the chance to visit Ellie’s hometown, Henley, Maine. But, now that they’re together, it’s impossible to keep their secrets for long and there’s a lot to overcome if love is to blossom…

My Review:

When an email from Graham Larkin to a pig walker gets mistakenly sent to sixteen year old Ellie O’Neill, an unlikely friendship blossoms between a teen heart-throb and a small town girl. But when their relationship goes from online to off-screen, things get complicated. The guy that every girl wants falls for a girl who wants nothing to do with the limelight or the paparazzi following that comes with it. Can the easy camaraderie Ellie and Graham once had stand up to the pressures that real life brings?

I have to admit I love the famous guy falling for the small town girl storyline. Mix it with elements of mistaken online identity in a “You’ve Got Mail” twist and you have one of my all time plot lines. I’ve watched movies based on this. I’ve read stories basted on this – I’ve even written my own novella like this. I’m delighted to say that This is What Happy Looks Like is such a worthy addition to the other works in this genre.

Ellie and Graham are flawlessly flawed. They are characters who both had to grow up fast due to their circumstances and as a result they both act much older than their years. Seeing them in this summer romance was delightful to see them behave like the teenagers they are. Both have their baggage but neither of them dwell on their situation. Graham wants something to like him for him and not the fame or privileges that go along with the “Graham Larkin Experience”. Ellie enjoys the quiet life and doesn’t appreciate the media circus that the film crew has brought to her peaceful Maine cottage.

I was a little disappointed with the supporting cast of characters – the friends were of the fair-weather variety and the authority figures were somewhat fleeting – but they didn’t detract from the romance between Graham and Ellie.

This is a very sweet story. Plot wise – there’s not too many surprises this is definitely one of those books you read for the journey and not the destination. It loses steam about two-thirds of the way in but manages to pick up the pace for a delightful ending.

Overall I’d recommend this book for anyone who likes a light contemporary story about a summer romance where no matter who you are, sometimes the simplest things in life are the ones that make you the happiest.

Favourite Quotes:

“Theirs was a partnership of details rather than facts. And the details were the best part.”

“He’d cast his e-mail out into the world in search of a trout and what he’d found instead was a salmon.”

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


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