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 17-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?
©2013 Jennifer E. Smith (P)2013 Hachette Audio
"[T]his sweet novel has a premise worthy of the movies.... [The] charming leads, smalltown backdrop, and absurdly romantic conceit will win hearts." (Publishers Weekly)
"Utterly convincing... a cast of vivid, sympathetic characters whose fate matters to readers and keeps them turning the pages." (Kirkus Reviews)
The Mad Reader
4.5 stars for the Book and 5 stars for the Narration.
This plot is every teenage girl dreams come true! Who didn’t dream about dating a superstar back in the time? I know I did, and the circumstances of their encounter are the perfect meet cute, and totally in synch with today’s technological and social media dependant world. Plus, I can’t help to gush over Graham’s absolutely romantic grand gesture. I would die if a movie was set in a particular place just so the star could be near me!
It was great that the story wasn’t only focused on the romance part, but it also has an intricate subplot that I wasn’t expecting. It captured marvellously the hell celebrities and public people go through with paparazzi, it’s just awful.
The only downside to the plot is that once all the elements are put into play, its development is too predictable. It’s so easy to see what’s coming next, but it is still oh so enjoyable to attest.
I loved that the author was focused on showing a different face to fame, and that it portrayed accurately how lonely and hard a celebrity’s life could sometimes be. I’m not a Britney Spears fan, but it sort of reminded me of her song “Lucky”.
That being said, what stands out the most with these characters are their relationships. How they are intimate but fragile. How they aren’t perfect. But my absolute favourite character was Ellie. She was so responsible, but it was easy to the teenage in her. It was just so simple to relate to her. I was rooting for her all along.
Whenever we get two narrators the gender role problem disappears. We have a clearly identifiable voice for each character. Nevertheless, they did have to play the other characters voice, even if it was for a brief a moment, at times; and both, Andrew Sweeney and Marcie Millard, did a great voice. I barely noticed it wasn’t the same voice because I was deeply involved with the story and their representation was good. It wasn’t the same of course, and at moments it was a bit weird that the voices changed a bit, that’s the downside of having two narrators. But they still made it work. I have to praise them both, because I felt they truly captured the essence of their characters, they sounded like two teenagers. They made the story come alive, and it was beautiful.
I'm an audiobook addict and blog about books at The Reading Date. My favorite genres are YA, New Adult, Fiction & Memoirs.
This is What Happy Looks Like is very sweet and has all the ingredients of a romantic comedy. The story is familiar- movie star falls for an everyday girl- but it’s still a charming read. The email correspondence “meet cute” had me rooting for this unlikely pairing from the beginning. There’s also family secrets, friendship drama, financial woes, a movie shoot in small town Maine, paparazzi, a beagle named Bagel, and Wilbur the pet pig. Sadly, I wasn’t totally swept off my feet by Happy the way I was with Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – maybe my expectations were too high? But I was entertained nonetheless.
I liked the dual POV in Happy, and Ellie and Graham both have interesting problems they’re dealing with. Ellie is hiding a big family secret, and working like a dog to pay for a summer college course. And Graham is coming to terms with his celebrity and where he wants to take his career. It’s cute that the girl who doesn’t want to be photographed falls for the guy who is always trailed by paparazzi. The two meet over email and there are many email exchanges in the book, and that was a bright spot for me.
The writing, plot and characters are pleasant and there are charming details in the Maine setting. I just was missing that oomph and wow factor in this one overall. I think that this book will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen- the writing, setting and overall tone of the book reminded me a lot of Dessen’s books. The romance is innocent, and the story touches a lot on family, finances, and friendship.
I listened to the audiobook, performed by Andrew Sweeney (Proxy) and Marcie Millard. Once I found out that email exchanges were used so much in the plot, I worried that the audiobook would be a bad call. (Sometimes having email addresses and dates/times spelled out over and over can get repetitive.) But, happily that was not the case and I think the audio actually made the story more enjoyable. The pacing and tone worked well, and the voices were a match to the characters personalities.
This is What Happy Looks Like is a sweet comfort read that all ages can enjoy. It doesn’t break new ground in contemporary YA but it’s a nice breezy read, if a little forgettable.
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