This is What Happy Looks Like
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2013
Source: borrowed from school library
Rating: 3/ 5 stars
This is What Happy Looks Like is a sweet romance. After an accidental email turns into penpals, Ellie and Graham talk for months without having met. Then one day Graham shows up in Ellie’s town. Don’t worry, it doesn’t go weird internet stalker on us. Graham is a big time teen actor, and although it sounds creepy, he’s gotten his newest movie set in Ellie’s small town. After a little mix up in identity (neither of them ever shared their real name through emails) Ellie is overwhelmed with the news that the person she’s been emailing is Graham Larkin. She wants to let him into her life, but she has secrets to keep and the cameras and gossip that follow Graham around won’t make that easy.
LIke I said, this is sweet and innocent, making it perfect for middle school students who enjoy reading romances. It’s exactly the kind of book I would have devoured as a middle school student.
As an adult, I would have enjoyed a little more development of Ellie’s relationship with her mom or with her best friend instead of always being focused on Graham, but then it wouldn’t be a romance, would it? At the same time, I would have also liked Graham to be more than just this piece of eye candy, Prince Charming character. I think there was an attempt to make him more, but it was never fully brought out. What about his drawing? Or possibly more about the books he’s read. Each of these were alluded to her and developed slightly, but not much. Not only would this fill out his character and flesh out ideas from the beginning of the novel, but it would help to solidify his relationship with Ellie more. Their relationship would be grounded in something a little more solid as they have some kind of solid ground.
Overall, I probably won’t read another Jennifer Smith novel--it's just not my type of book. I will, however, recommend her books to some of my students who are into romance stories. I think they would love it.