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

happinessEllie O’Neill is a typical teenager living in a typical “middle-of-nowhere” small town in Maine. On a very typical day, shortly before the summer after her Junior year of high school, she receives an email from a boy from a “middle-of-everything” town in California named Graham Larkin. The email was sent to her by mistake, but sometimes a mistake ends up being someone’s destiny and fate. This boy just happens to be a huge movie star, but Ellie is not aware of this little detail of his life because they never exchange names. The two end up hitting it off, and emailing back and forth for months. Then summer rolls along, and Graham ends up shooting a movie in her little town in Maine, and just like that, their love story begins.

This book is what happy looks like. It was an enjoyable before bedtime read that I didn’t want to put down, even when my eyes were starting to feel weighted. There are a few things that disturbed be about the book, that I couldn’t get over:

1. I didn’t like how Ellie just accepted the fact that Graham decided to shoot a movie in Maine, even though he had never met Ellie, in person. This wasn’t a coincidence (I think the book would have been better if it was.) Graham saw an opportunity to suggest Maine as the location, and when it came through, I don’t think he thought about how creepy that actually was. If I was chatting with someone online, and then they just showed up at my doorstep, I think I would be a little more upset than Ellie was. I guess since he was a movie star, and not a serial killer, it was okay, but you never know. This is why they teach kids not to talk to strangers online. It doesn’t always work out happily-ever-after. Sometimes happy doesn’t look like this, it looks like the next big Lifetime movie.

2. I didn’t like the subplot of Ellie’s Dad. I feel like it was put into the book for a good reason, and then kind of blown over at the end. Nothing was ever resolved, at least I don’t think it was, and I still have more questions about him and if their relationship will ever develop.

3. The relationship between Ellie and her best friend Quinn was kind of lacking. I don’t think they had enough book time, and I think their relationship should have been patched up way before it actually was. Their story could have expanded the book even more, and I think their subplot didn’t get enough attention either.

Things I loved about the book:

1. Whoopie pies. YUM! I actually think they’re the sweet treat of PA, because I see them everywhere! The book just made me want to run over to the Amish Market and get one, or at least run to Starbucks.

2. Ellie’s mom’s shop. I love beach shops. I love Knick Knack shops. I love postcards! The scene with the little girl picking out a postcard brought a tear to my eye.

3. Maine. While I was reading this book, I told my husband I wanted to visit Maine next summer. He said yes! Too bad I’m allergic to shellfish, I could really go for some lobster.

4. The beach. Oh, how I adore the ocean. Any book that involves the summer/beach is awesome in my mind. Especially when it’s cold and winter, like it is now.

What happy looks like for me:

My husband. My baby boy kicking in my belly. My family. My friends. The ocean. Disney World. French Fries as a meal. Breakfast for dinner. Coffee. An unexpected good book. Books as gifts. Goodnight kisses. Puppy dog kisses. A sunset over the bay.

Happiness is everywhere, you just have to look for it.


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