This review first appeared at A Backwards Story on July 3, 2013.
It's being reprinted for the 4th of July holiday in the USA!
The book starts out on an accidental note. Teen movie actor Graham Larkin misspells an email address and winds up emailing normal girl Ellie O'Neill about his pet pig. They begin sending emails back and forth and becoming friends, never learning the other's true identity. When the location for Graham's new movie falls apart, he remembers that the girl he's becoming friends with lives in Maine and convinces the location scouts to shoot the movie near where she lives. He knows only that she works at an ice cream shop named Scoops, but how hard will it be to figure out which employees have names that start with the letter "E?" Harder than he thinks, since Ellie loaned her shirt to a co-worker, and he takes the wrong girl out to dinner. He quickly realizes his mistake, and once Graham and Ellie finally meet, they become friends...until Ellie starts getting cold feet. She's hiding an explosive secret the paparazzi would have a field day with if it's ever discovered, and quickly severs ties with Graham. Secrets, however, always have a way of coming out...
There's more than what meets the eye in THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE. At first glance, it's a wish fulfillment novel. Everyone wishes a famous movie star would fall in love with them and sweep them away. There's so much more than that at stake, however. Smith paints a picture of Graham that's lonely and shows that he has real issues of his own to deal with. Rather than create a storybook ending, she unearths a secret that reveals why Ellie is so skittish and explains everything she's tried to keep hidden for so long. Both characters have genuine issues and neither is perfect. At the same time, their scenes together are sweet and full of the joys of slowly falling for someone for the first time. Things aren't always perfect and can often be awkward, and the same is true of real life. If you're looking for a lighter novel for the beach or the holiday weekend, THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE is sure to bring a smile to your face!