Monday, May 13, 2013

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

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Release Date: April 2, 2013 
Publisher: Poppy
Source: Publisher for Review via NetGalley 
If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?
I really, really wanted to love this book but alas, it wasn't meant to be. It's not that I didn't like this book, because I did. I just didn't love it as much as I loved TSPoLaFS or many of the other books I've read this year. This is What Happy Looks Like began off with a great start but less than half way through, it faltered.

The initial idea of this book sounded great but the execution was not as well done. For one, I loved the emails between Ellie and Graham. They were adorable and awkward at first but once the two of them meet, the romance fizzled. There seemed to be no chemistry between them once they met. And after they met, the emails almost disappeared. This was so sad because the emails were my favorite part of this entire book! Along those same lines, This is What Happy Looks Like didn't turn out to be about the relationship between Ellie and Graham, in my opinion. Their issues were basically about both of them getting over their family issues. Sadly, I didn't think this drama was necessary and the climax wasn't even a climax. I’d hoped to feel bad for Ellie because of everything she was going through but I never felt anything. The resolution to the issues she has with her father left me feeling cheated. After an entire novel of worrying and questioning, nothing happened!

Ellie and Graham as characters were an interesting pair. I was very indifferent to both of them. By the end of the novel, I concluded that they bored me. Ellie and Graham were both good people with good lives but with secrets. And they liked Charlotte’s Web, a plus, but what else? I felt like I didn’t know either of them enough to care about them. Again, after the two of them met, their personalities became bland. Reading the emails made me feel like both were snarky, funny characters but instead, they weren’t. As they were such boring characters, I can’t really find anything else to say about them.

Jennifer E. Smith’s writing had that sense of care freeness that I love in books like This is What Happy Looks Like. The writing was easy to read and thankfully Smith didn’t bog down the story by adding more information than necessary. I’m always afraid of info dumps when it comes to contemporary books. Even if the writing was good, I still didn’t care for the characters but I’m certain that had I liked Ellie and Graham (and the plot) a lot more, the writing would have been even more appealing.

Overall, This is What Happy Looks Like had a great premise. It reminded me of You’ve Got Mail, a movie I’ve always loved but sadly, it didn’t work for me. Yes, it was a quick read but I found myself simply flipping the pages, reading the book but not really absorbing it.
Cover Comments: 
I actually like it! The font, the placing, and the yellow all work in favor of the book. Yet, for me, I found it misleading: the cover makes it seem like a cute, romantic book but I didn't find it to be like that.