This Is What Happy Looks Like | Jennifer E. Smith | Book Review

Is it just me or does Jennifer E. Smith have the longest book titles ever? This aside, This Is What Happy Looks Like was one of my most anticipated 2013 reads. While it isn’t quite as flawless as The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight, I still found Smith’s latest book to be a very swoon worthy read and especially loved the coastal Maine backdrop. If you’re a fan of stories where the characters fall for each other through anonymous correspondence (like You’ve Got Mail) you should probably pay attention to this review because chances are This Is What Happy Looks Like will be right up your alley.

This Is What Happy Looks Like Jennifer E Smith Book Cover

Graham Larkin is a teenage celebrity — he plays a wizard in a series of very popular movies. Also. He owns a pet pig. One day he sends Ellie O’Neill an email about his pet pig, only it’s kind of an accident as he doesn’t know her at all and he meant to send it to his animal caretaker. What happens next is a series of emails between the two that go over almost every topic under the sun and of course, an intense connection forms. Only, Ellie is just a normal girl and has no idea Graham is a celebrity. As the two connect so well, Graham wants to take the relationship off screen and so somehow manages to maneuver the filming of his newest film to Ellie’s hometown in Maine. Will their feelings transfer to real life? Will Ellie and Graham get a happy ending? Honestly if you have two brain cells to rub together you can totally answer that question without reading the book — but the journey in This Is What Happy Looks Like is totally worth reading if you go for romantic contemporary young adult reads.

Ellie O’Neill is one of those girls who actually has a good head on her shoulders. She’s level headed and reasonable and doesn’t lose her shit over stupid things. ALSO! She has a secret that none of her friends know — and that secret has nothing to do with Graham. I totally won’t tell you what it is but just tantalize it and when you get to the secret you’ll be all OH MY GOSH THAT MAKES PERFECT SENSE. Because we all totally react to things using strictly caps lock, can I get an amen. Anyways, I loved that Ellie was a hard worker and doesn’t expect hand outs. She’s not one of those characters who drops $400 on a purse and then complains about being poor. She actually is broke. I love that, ha ha. Weird, but that’s one of my reading quirks. So anyways, Ellie writes poetry and is actually a good person, thus I rooted for her during most of Jennifer E. Smith’s book.

What I loved about This Is What Happy Looks Like is that it’s one of those dual point of view books – with email exchanges between the chapters. Not only do we get to see what Ellie is thinking but we also get a look at the contents of Graham Larkin’s head. Y’all, I thought Graham might be kind of a douche because he’s famous, but he actually reminded me of Jonah from Jenna And Jonah’s Fauxmance, another YA contemporary book with actors. Anyways, Graham is actually a super nice guy and I totally was AWWWing every time he did something adorable. And then, LOL I actually felt bad for him because of how lonely he is and it’s like you think money can buy you everything but unfortunately, sometimes it can be a bit alienating if you come from a middle class background (although tbh I’d rather be loaded like Graham then my current situation, ha ha). Regardless, Graham is awesome and while he might not be as swoon worthy as Oliver, he’s still a great love interest/lead. ALSO! He’s a nice guy and I just love that finally we get nice guys portrayed as worthy of affection in YA.

It’s weird but I really like the whole strangers who know nothing about each other but their words trope. I love that they fall for each other through emails, because I think that allows for the two to let their guard down and let their inner-selves out. I mean, okay that just came off as SUPER WEIRD, but stay with me here — if you didn’t have to worry about being beautiful or following social convention and just conversed through letters you might just be more open instead of ya know, closed off. At the same time though, I think that the form of letters/emails totally allows the writer to form their identity as the best possible form of themselves. And okay, I get that I am talking in circles here, but I just thought the emails were a great convention and added a nice level of intimacy to the story. Also, I could not wait to see what would happen when Graham and Ellie meet. There’s still room for real life swoons and physical affection and all of that glory. Trust.

I love how Jennifer E. Smith writes. Like, her words are really smooth and just go down easy, ya know? Like I don’t read her books and say what just happened, I don’t get it. Instead, I find myself highlighting large swaths of text and thinking oh yes, she gets it. I love that Smith can convey romance without being saccharine. I love that she writes characters who are good people without making them wet blankets. I love that I can guess the outcome of the book just by reading the synopsis, but I stick through it because what happens doesn’t matter to me so much as how it all goes down.

This Is What Happy Looks Like is a lovely read that definitely deserved a spot on my anticipated 2013 to-be-read list. It has so many things I like in books from a good setting to a well done dual point of view. At this juncture I know that I will probably be into most of what Jennifer E. Smith writes with varying results — I really, really liked this book, but I didn’t love it on the level of The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight. So, take that as you will and go forth and read this book because it’s one of those perfect spring/summer reads.

Disclosure: Received for review via Netgalley

Other reviews of This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith:

Anna Reads – “exactly the type of book I crave
Quinn’s Book Nook – “it’s sweet, and real, and just so great
Rather Be Reading – “I don’t mind calling myself a Jennifer E. Smith cheerleader.

Books by Jennifer E. Smith:
The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight

The following two tabs change content below.
April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. hmmm… i love the premise of this book! it sounds adorable… BUT… i wasn’t a HUGE fan of statistical probability of love at first sight so i’m a little nervous!

  2. I loved the Maine setting, too. I made me want to go on vacation to Maine again. Oh, and totally I love the emails back and forth. Of course, You’ve Got Mail is one of my favorite movies.

  3. You had me at a coastal Maine setting and similar to “You’ve Got Mail”…..I loved that movie! Sadly, I haven’t read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight yet, but I plan on it. It seems like, from what you said, that may be a good one to start off with since you liked it a bit more. I can’t wait to check out Smith’s writing style…it sounds fantastic. Great review!

  4. I’m probably one of the very few who hasn’t already read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, but trust me, I want to and have no doubts that it’ll blow me away. Such is the case with this book as well. I tend to stay away from contemporary romances (or romances in general) because I find them to be too insta-lovey, but if Smith’s books aren’t super saccharine then I’m all for it. I just want something that’s unique but plausible and accidental emails totally fits the bill! I ADORE that concept! I can’t wait to check it out and then fawn all over in UTTER CAPS LOCK (because it really is the greatest form of expression aside from the GIF). Fabulous!

  5. I loved this book! It was my first Jennifer E. Smith book and it was such fun to read. And I totally awww-ed over all the cute things Graham did … I loved him as the male lead! And I really loved Ellie, too. The dual narrative was awesome and really kept up my interest — and I loved the emails! I can’t wait to read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight now! 🙂

  6. YES I loved the e-mails too! Sometimes having text messages or e-mails in a book bothers me, but it worked SO WELL for this story. I loved the text messages at the beginning of each chapter – it just increased my level of love for it, hah! I’m totally with you – Statistical Probability totally topped this one, but I still loved it a lot and I can’t wait to read more from JES!

  7. Oooh, I can’t wait for this one ! I didn’t know this was written in all e-mails. Hmm, I was going to get this in audio but e-mails may not sound right in this. Thanks for the review ! *patiently waits*

  8. I’m really excited for this one, glad to hear you liked it. You’ve made me more excited to pick it up!

  9. I really liked The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight so I’ve been excited to read this. So glad you liked it! I read a sneak peak of the first chapter or so and adored it – especially the emails. Books with emails/letters/notes etc. always win me over. I think it mixes it up a little bit and it’s nice to have a break from solid text sometime. And I love that you get to really hear the characters voices that way because it’s more informal. Anyway, this book sounds so cute and I’ll definitely be checking it out!

  10. I really want to read this, but I’m guessing it will be a 3 star for me, since I didn’t even think TSP was flawless. Sounds so cute though, and I love storytelling devices like that!

  11. Statistical was like my FAVORITE book ever, so my expectations are quite high for this one, and it sounds really good. Like, don’t get me wrong, I loved Statistical, but I kind of wish it spanned over a longer length of time and this one certainly does. I also like that Graham isn’t a totally self-centered prick because a lot of times celebrities are portrayed that way when we all know that they’re people too.

  12. One of the things I love most about Jennifer is the way she writes. I’m anticipating falling in love with this book, particularly because of the fact that the main characters form a relationship initially based on their emails. It just sounds equal parts fanciful and realistic, and I love that!