This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith

This is what happy looks like


Description (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?

Title: This is What Happy Looks Like

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Page Count: 416

Series: Standalone

How I Got This Book: Bought

My Review:

“OH MY GOSH” < Me the entire time I was reading this book.

Even though this book was over 400 pages, I read it in one day. I loved this book too much for words. But, considering this is a book review, I guess I better try to put it into words. Well, this was my second Jennifer E Smith book, and I loved it just as much as the first one. If not even more.

So the first thing I want to say about this book is about Jennifer E. Smith’s writing style. I have read three of her books in total and she has this constant habit in all of them to write very poetically. Her writing is “Oh-so-quotable”, if you will. Like, one quote strung after the next, creating a beautiful story.

So writing style wise, she is probably my favorite author for that reason. All through the book I would find quotes that I want on posters, t-shirts, billboards, etc., etc. You know, the usual.

Also, something about Jennifer E. Smith’s characters is very poetic and real, as well. Ellie, the main character in This Is What Happy Looks Like, had money issues, father issues, as well as friend issues. She has problems that are very valid and very relatable to many people. She is also a poet, which I, as an amateur poet myself, was able to connect with. She lives in a small, cluttered house and wants things she can’t have. She has a lot of things on her plate that she needs to deal with, making the situation realistic and complex.

Also, Graham. For a movie star, he seemed really down to earth, which I really liked. I loved how he was so sweet and caring. I really loved how he cared so much for Ellie.
I also really loved the setting! A little off-the-map town in Maine was just the perfect setting for this book. All of the little shops and the pier and the docks made it all seem so perfectly quiet and magical. Just the kind of place I want to be at. So it was very easy to immerse myself in the imagery because of the way the author described the town.

I think that summer time was the perfect time of the year to introduce everybody to this place, as well. Because there was an air of celebration, but the movie set played a role in that, too.

Because this book takes place in a town that is having a movie filmed in it, everyone is all in a buzz. And that added an extra air of excitement for the reader. I personally have never been on a movie set, so it was cool to kind of see it from the inside out.

The plot itself was very unique. At least, from anything I’ve ever read. I was going into this book expecting possible cheesiness overload. Because I had only read one Jennifer E. Smith book prior to this novel, I didn’t know if it would be as good as the first one. But I was surprised. I mean, yes, there were some sweet, cheesy moments. But it’s a contemporary for goodness sake. What do you expect?

Even the cheesy moments didn’t feel painfully cheesy, they were just…contemporary. But that is why we read contemporary, right? To get a sweet love story or something of the sort. A nice little tale that makes you smile and laugh and possibly cry? Well, that’s why I read contemporary anyway.

So I found this book adorable and realistic and wonderful in every way.
I also loved the relationship between Ellie and the love interest. (Not sure if saying his name is a spoiler. So I won’t say it.) It was very friendly and lovely. It was natural and not awkward and forced, like I find book relationships are a lot of the time. There were moments when I wanted to hug the characters because they were doing exactly what I wanted them to. And other moments when I wanted to slap them with their book because they were both being stubborn.

Another thing about this book that really makes me love it is the relationship between her and her best friend. We actually don’t see a lot of friendliness between them in the book. The best friend, Quinn, is one of those stubborn people who, even if they are the ones in the wrong, will stand their own ground until they’re dead. She is very much thinking she is the one that is right and Ellie is wrong when they get into fights. And so that causes Ellie stress and pain.

I am pretty sure everyone can relate to having their best friend turn into a jerk all of sudden, so that really added another realistic layer to the story and the conflicts.
Graham, in many instances, completely makes the scene. Whether he is stealing a boat or playing spy or punching camera men on impulse anger, he adds a big sarcastic punch to every scene that he is in. He is kind of a trouble maker, but in a sweet way.

Like a baby puppy that just tore the couch apart.

Even the side characters added life to the story in ways that not many other books have accomplished.

So if you are hesitant to pick this book up because it might be too cheesy, just know that it’s a contemporary. It is sweet and funny and light. It is a perfect summer book to sit outside or by the window. The pool or the beach. So if you don’t like just nice little contemporaries, then why are you even reading this review, for one thing? Haha.

Another thing that I majorly applaud Jennifer E. Smith on is not filling her books with bad language and smut, just to get the word count up. There is nothing bad in these books, and it just makes them that much more wonderful. Because you don’t have to cringe every time you flip the page, because nothing will jump out and surprise you in this book!

Alrighty, I am going to sort of wrap up this portion of the review, and do a spoilery section. The spoilery section will just be things that I want to discuss about this book, but can’t because…MAJOR SPOILERS! Haha! So if you want the wrap up, you can scroll down until you see the colored warning that the spoilers are over. See you on the other side of Spoilerville!


Okay, so we’ve all read the book here, right? Good. Finally I have found my people.
So, the first things first: The cutest scene in all of time and space. The scene where Graham comes over to Ellie’s place for dinner and they make a little buffet of stale chips and cold pizza. That was the sweetest thing I have ever read in my entire life.

That is the kind of relationship that I love to read about. Not the kind full of kissing and fighting and melodramatic x-rated scenes. But the kind where you have pizza and watch movies. Go out for ice cream and just talk about life.

And if that is the kind of relationship that you like to read about (and hope to have someday, too) then I believe we are on the same page and we need to be friends. Also, if this was your first book from the beautiful mind of Jennifer E. Smith, just know the relationships in her other two books that I have read are the same way! (THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT (best title evaaa) and THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME) (Links down at the bottom of this post)


So now that I have my Ellie/Graham otp feelings off of my chest I can talk a bit more about other things. (Things that obviously don’t matter as much as the love life of two fictional characters, but you know…)

I LOVED the Fourth of July theme near the end of the book. I loved the way Ellie’s town had that community barbecue. I really enjoyed reading about that sense of small town community that I have always wanted to experience for myself.

I loved all of the little inside jokes that just kept piling up between Graham and Ellie. Like the whoopie pies, the melted chocolate, the “Good Morning”, Etc., etc.

And I know that a lot of people really thought that the meeting someone you love over the internet is so out-there and unrealistic. But I disagree. I have met my best friend in the entire world over the internet, and so I think that the pen pal turned boyfriend thing in the book was really sweet. And while even though I met a best friend and not a boyfriend over the internet, it was cool having characters that understood the reality of a relationship even though you haven’t met physically.

I do think that the “accidental movie star email” was a little out there. But, you know what? That is why I read. To read these stories that may not seem super likely, but hey…anything can happen. And as a teenage nerd-girl who spends a majority of her time daydreaming about this exact situation, it’s pretty cool to read about a normal person connecting with a famous person.


So, yeah! That was my review of This Is What happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. Sorry ( I’m not really that sorry ) that it is not more critical, but there is literally nothing wrong with this book. Not one thing.

I hope that in this review you either learned about a book that you might like, or found someone to talk to about your love for this book! Thank you for reading and I will have a new post up soon!

For those of you who HAVE read this book: Hey guys! Feel free to tell me your thoughts on this book in the comments. I would to love hear your level of fangirliness over this book! Did you like it? Or nah? I can’t wait to hear from you!

Add this book on Goodreads! : This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

And Jennifer E. Smith’s other books! :



And you don’t want to miss the release of Jennifer’s new book this fall! (Click on the cover for the Goodreads page!)


My overall rating:



4 thoughts on “This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith

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