Title: This Is What Happy Looks Like
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Release Date: Available
With This Is What Happy Looks Like, Jennifer E. Smith succeeds in creating another cute, fun romance. Seventeen year-old Ellie O’Neill is living with her single mother in “Middle-of-Nowhere, Maine” when she receives a stray email from Graham Larkin in “Middle-of-Everything, California.” The two strike up an ongoing conversation, Ellie not realizing the witty, charming boy with whom she is forming a virtual bond is an actor and teen heart-throb. She remains blissfully ignorant of his identity until Graham decides to step up their relationship by ensuring that his next movie is set in Ellie’s intimate, picturesque town. But Ellie is unsure if she can endure a relationship with a star when the invasive paparazzi might reveal to the world that she is the extramarital daughter of a prominent politician.
This is What Happy Looks Like is in a similar form to Smith’s previous novel, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. Both take almost cliché romance ideas and attempt to refresh them into something more. Unfortunately, Smith succeeds less in her newest novel than in Statistical Probability. The latter is pithy and substantial, with as much attention paid to the protagonist’s relationship with her family as to her feelings for the love interest. But while Ellie’s relationship with her mother, best friend, and remote father are significant in Happy, these plot lines are saturated with Ellie’s thoughts and feelings for Graham, giving no reprieve from the love story. The book is almost twice the length of Statistical Probability, but somehow less seems to happen. The affectionate beach scenes and under the fireworks moments are pleasant and adorable, but not particularly moving or fresh. Overall, the story is quite enjoyable, but not much more.
Review by Sami;
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