4th of July Read: THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKES by Jennifer E. Smith

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

(pg. 6, US e-book edition)
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!

I always enjoy reading books that take place "right now." In winter, I like to read snowy books, for example. I had no clue when picking up THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE to read this week that it took place, in part, over the Fourth of July, but it's perfect timing! If you're looking for a fun, festive read, the search is officially over.

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!

C O V E R   D E S I G N:

When I first saw the cover for THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE, it immediately reminded me of the cover for Smith's 2012 novel, THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT. The books aren't related in any way, but I always like when an author's books have a uniform look to them, don't you? 

I like the way both books are in monochrome, the only color being around the two models and on a highlighted word in the title.

Though there's no cute image on the title of the new book the way "THE" has an arrow struck through it in Smith's previous novel, I do really enjoy the way the cover designer used yellow and curved the word "HAPPY" in an upwards arc. It reminds me a lot of a smiley face! 

I also like the way rays of sunshine were drawn around the two characters. It spotlights them in the same way the heart does on the other cover. It also reminds me a little bit of the boat scene from THE LITTLE MERMAID, and you all know I have a soft spot for that movie! I like both covers in different, yet similar ways. I think they're both striking, and love the pop of color and the way the models are being focused on, don't you? I would love to see the author's other books get a cover overhaul and all look like this!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Poppy / Little, Brown
Received: 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?


  1. Both of you 4th of July reads sound awesome and I hope to read both of them soon.


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