Thursday, June 18, 2015

This is What Happy Looks Like | Book Review

Title: This is What Happy Looks Like
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Series: Standalone
Publisher/Year: Headline, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.71/5
My Rating: 2.5/5
From Goodreads: "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 was engaged immediately. The prologue includes a series of witty emails sent back and forth between Graham and Ellie. The entire premise of the novel is that they met online and made a connection, and from that connection they meet each other and develop a relationship. Yet we only get about 2% of the online relationship they have. These characters forged a connection online so that when they meet in real life they already have a relationship in the works, one that, from the point of the reader, makes no sense. We don't get to see their relationship grow from more than just a casual email. The connection between the characters is there but since the development of that connection isn't shown, the reader can't see it and it makes their relationship feel very shallow and under-developed.

Without being able to read the emails that formed that relationship, it wasn't possible for me to get invested in the story and characters. I could't feel anything for them. Along with the lack of depth in the plot, the characters were very two-dimensional and boring. Graham was too "perfect" and Ellie was too stubborn. I mostly liked Graham, until he mentioned how Ellie was "different from other girls" (like how many times has that line been used before?) and went on to criticize women who wore makeup and "impossibly high heels". Because putting effort into how you look and being confident in makeup and high heels is something to be frowned upon.

Although, the novel is over 400 pages, things happened too fast. The characters didn't grow or develop at all. The problems that faced Graham and Ellie were fixed in the blink of an eye. There was no real conflict. The book was incredibly overdramatic. Both Graham and Ellie had parental problems which created many melodramatic scenes that were completely unnecessary. The major conflict in the book was too easily resolved. There was no real solution and no development between the characters. It all just went back to the way it was at the beginning of the novel.

Overall, This is What Happy Looks Like is a simple, light, and entertaining novel that fails on many aspects. If only the book was as pretty as the cover.

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree with you that the "different from other girls" is so overused. I share similar thoughts towards this book!