Publication Date: 4th April, 2013
Format: Paperback, ARC
Source: Publisher (for review)
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?
Y'all wish you could see me right now, writing this review. Let me tell you, I have the biggest smile on my face. Like, ever. It is ADORABLE.
There were so many ways this could have gone wrong. I mean, as fab as it sounds, loosely based around the idea of fate and accidentally sending an email to somebody who turns out to be a celebrity? The odds are kind of one in a million. Starting an actual relationship, romantic or otherwise, from this chance email? Unbelievable. But the thing is...it DIDN'T go wrong. It grabbed any doubts I had and ripped them to pieces. It wasn't just the emails, but everything, that I loved. And it's not completely light and fun, there's some serious stuff in there too, and the way Smith has written it and developed the characters was fantastic.
So, the premise is fairly simple. Misguided emails, one person in this email is secretly a celebrity, they meet and start a relationship. Except...not quite. This story is SO much more than that. Jennifer Smith, in the excellent way she does, gives both characters their own story lines beyond the romance. Ellie has this massive secret and some family issues. Graham has family issues of a different nature, as well as the natural issues that come with being a celebrity. And both have to deal with the complications these secrets and separate issues have on their relationship. Add to the fact that, you know, Ellie didn't KNOW he was famous. Things are complicated and intricate and beautiful and heartbreaking.
I really really liked Graham as a person. He seemed like a really down-to-earth guy. You wouldn't expect him, being a celebrity, to actually reply to some random stranger on the internet. The risks, y'know? But he does, and I thought it was really sweet. Their emails were really them, and I loved that. I feel like you guys will hate me for using the word adorable about fifty times in this review but seriously, I don't know how else to describe it all.
I'm not going to lie, I've thought often about what would happen if I wrote an email and then accidentally sent it to somebody I didn't even know, to then receive a reply from them. Even better, that person happens to be my age, and also a super hot guy. *winky face* No seriously, I think it's awesome. I've always wanted a penpal, but it's really hard to actually find somebody who a) is my age, and b) likes the same things I do. So when I heard about THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE, I kind of fangirled a little at the idea of it. It's just so adorable, man. I could read you out the Oxford English Dictionary definition of 'adorable,' and if you didn't understand, I'd probably shove a copy of it at you and say "Read this and you will KNOW." Basically, the one negative feeling I felt whilst reading it was bitterness because it wasn't happening to me, but I think my default mode is bitter, so it's all good.
One of my favourite things in the story was how Ellie worked in an ice-cream shop. AN ICE-CREAM SHOP. Ice-cream is my absolute favourite thing in the entire world, after books. It is seriously my dream to work in an ice-cream shop, and that is another reason why I hate Ellie. It's so unfAIR. (I don't really hate Ellie. She is lovely. I want to be her ok pls and thank u)
Though I didn't love it as much as I loved THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT (I don't think Jennifer Smith could ever write anything to top that one), THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE is definitely one of my favourite reads for summer. It is one of those perfect pick-me-up books, and comes highly recommended from me.