I adored Crooked Kingdom, but after finishing it I needed something fluffy and fun. I was lucky enough to have this book on hand and decided to start reading it. I haven’t heard a ton about Jennifer E. Smith’s books, not the way I’ve heard about Stephanie Perkins or Morgan Matson, but I enjoyed This is What Happy Looks Like immensely. It was just what I needed – a cute, lighthearted read – and happened to represent my house very well, too. 🙂
Many contemporary romance novels in YA have a few unique points, but typically have a lot in common. I don’t mean that in a bad way; I love the genre. To be honest, though, it’s true. It could be the girl on the sidelines crushing on the popular guy, or a girl falling in love with a guy that has a girlfriend, or a girl realizing she has feelings for her best friend’s crush. There are a lot more, of course, and I’ve read and enjoyed books that could fall into all of those categories. But this book just felt distinctly unique, if that makes sense. It’s about a small-town girl with a complicated family and a guy that happened to become the most popular teen male celebrity of his time. (If I was familiar with pop culture, I’d make a joke or a reference…but I’m not, so let’s move on.) A mistake leads to them exchanging emails, and then the movie that the guy is in ends up being filmed in the girl’s town. They meet, drama ensues, and it’s just a lot of fun. I might be missing something or just forgetting, but I don’t think there’s many, if any, other books with a similar story to this one.
I loved Ellie. She was so relatable and I think I clicked with her instantly, so to speak. She was quiet and sometimes nervous, caught between building a relationship with Graham and hiding from the press that constantly trailed him. She stood out from other girls her age, who would’ve been all over a burst of fame and a chance to date their favorite actor. I also loved that when she was around certain people, her walls were down and she was fun and witty. I think in that way I was really able to relate to her, because while I wouldn’t necessarily call myself witty, I have the same general attitude. Although I will admit that she probably handled situations better than I would have. 😉
Graham was great, too. He had everything he could’ve possibly wanted, though through a method he might not have chosen. Hopefully that makes sense. But anyway, he was a huge teen celebrity, and I admired the way he handled it. He was almost always relaxed, if not a bit annoyed, around paparazzi. I say almost because there was a couple of things he did that I found a bit too overly dramatic for my tastes. Despite that, I liked that he didn’t let his fame change him, so to speak. He was never the spoiled, arrogant guy and I liked that. I may like sassy, arrogant boys (ie Will Herondale and Noah Shaw), but if Graham had ended up like that it would’ve been different. Arrogant celebrities just annoy me, to be honest. But that’s not really my point. My point is, I really liked Graham, and I’m glad he didn’t follow any famous figure stereotypes. (Yes, those are a thing.) 🙂
This book is set in a quaint coastal town in Maine, called Henley, and it was beautiful. Granted, I’ve never been there and I couldn’t actually see it as I read, but I loved it. The way Jennifer described it made it feel so peaceful and pretty, and I loved imagining each part of the town. It was the sort of place where everyone knew everyone, and a popular tourist destination in the summer. It was the sort of place I would love to live in, with ice cream parlors and beaches and books. Honestly, if I thought I could handle Maine winters, I would move there. 😀
This was probably the most realistic part of the book, and I loved it. Ellie and Graham both have family trouble, the former being political and the latter being a result of his career, and it felt raw while still maintaining the lighthearted feel I enjoyed. Around a quarter of the way through the book Ellie and her best friend Quinn had an argument, and it seemed like something that could happen to any pair of friends. It wasn’t petty, and they didn’t get over it in a couple of days. I could especially relate to this aspect, as my own best friend and I have been drifting apart.
My issue was with Ellie and Graham’s romance. It was my favorite part of the story, because it was so cute and I liked seeing how a celebrity and a normal girl would make things work. Like I said before, there were a couple of moments between them where I thought Graham went a bit too far. It didn’t completely ruin them for me, but I didn’t understand why he went to such extremes either. Basically, they’re really cute together, but Graham needs to make sure he saves his flair for the dramatic for the movies. 🙂
My other issue was with the twists or, I guess, lack thereof. I’ve said before that I don’t mind and typically prefer contemporaries to only have one or two surprises, so they keep me on my toes but still are good fluff books. This book didn’t really have anything that caught me by surprise. It’s not a huge deal in this genre, but I’ll admit, I was hoping for something. 😉
This is What Happy Looks Like had flaws, but it was still a great fluffy read. I loved the uniqueness of the story and the realistic way the relationships were written, and I think I’ll be daydreaming about Henley for a while. If you’re looking for a simple, lighthearted read, definitely give this a try. I can’t wait to see what Jennifer E. Smith’s other contemporaries are like. 😀
my rating: 4½ out of 5 stars
Have you read this book? Is it on your TBR? If you have read it, what did you think? I’d love to know! Tell me in the comments! 🙂
I’m off to eat breakfast and see how fast I can read Die for Me by Amy Plum, since it’s due back to the library tomorrow. XD I hope you all have a fabulous day/night! ❤
Until next time…