Title: This is What Happy Looks like
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Blurb from Goodreads:
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 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?
"Nothing's all that scary if you can see it coming."
This review will be a little spoilery. I thought this book was super cute! When I read the synopsis I was immediately sold. I thought Graham was such a great character. He became a movie star when he made his big break in a movie when he was sixteen years old and he didn't really feel like he connected with anyone. Even his parents weren't the same for him anymore. He felt alone until he met Ellie. Ellie was an outlet for him. He was able to share his deepest thoughts and could be himself without worrying about the fame. (It was very reminiscent of A Cinderella Story to me.) I loved reading his scenes because he just had so much going on in his life, but he desperately wanted to get to know Ellie because he truly cared about her. I mean come on, he made it possible to shoot his MOVIE IN HER TOWN! How romantic is that?! I was actually shocked how fast he wanted to get to Ellie. He sees her best friend Quinn wearing Ellie's shirt and thinks it's her so he asks her out just like that! However, when he finds out that she is not Ellie he immediately goes to meet Ellie at her house! I was thinking "Oh. Wow we are doing this already?! Awesome!" I was excited! The only thing that kind of made me sad (and it's completely irrelevant) is that I wanted to see more of Wilbur! We only talked about him, but we didn't actually get to see him! How cute is it that Graham has a pet pig?!
"He hadn't realized how much it could mean, having someone to talk to like that; he hadn't realized that it could be a kind of lifeline, and that without it, there would be nobody to save you if you started to drown."
Now Ellie's story was interesting to read as well. I sort of picked it up early on that her dad must have been a politician and that's why they were trying to lie low in the media, but being an illegitimate daughter, WHOA! If I were Ellie I would have totally made him pay for my tuition. It's the least he could do. I was a little disappointed when she decided not to tell her father who she was once she saw him, but I get it. He didn't even recognize her so why bother? Still I was anticipating that meeting and wondering how it would go. We spend chapters on a boat going to the town he's staying in to meet him and then we don't? Darn. But I admire how hard she worked to get what she wanted. She couldn't ask her mom to pay $2000 for that summer poetry program so she took two jobs to try to make that money herself. Even when time was running out, she never gave up hope trying to get the money. She even refused to accept Graham's help. I think it shows just how independent and strong she actually is. She wanted to take care of herself. She went after her dreams and would stop at nothing to make them possible. But who could argue with losing a whoopie pie bet?
As for secondary characters? I didn't like Quinn. I think the fact that she was so upset that Ellie didn't tell her about her e-mails to Graham was a little far-fetched. Hello! She didn't know it was him and why would she tell her something that Ellie wasn't even sure meant anything? I get she was tired of Ellie's secrets but she could have at least let her explain instead of pretty much spending the entire book ignoring her and making Ellie beg for her forgiveness.
As for Ellie's mom, well meh. I understood why she was so protective of her daughter but at times you just wanted her to cut Ellie a break!
The ending: Now I see the difficulties in trying to build and maintain a relationship based off their schedules and where they are in life, but come on! I want that cute happily ever after for them! Or at the very least "Let's give this a shot!" They were just so cute and perfect together! But I loved the ending! I loved that Graham ended up paying for her summer program tuition (end of discussion) and he had agreed to go see her whenever he was in town. It was a great ending and I look forward to reading more of Jennifer E. Smith's novels. For not being an avid contemporary reader, I am starting to see the benefits. (: