Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Review of This is What Happy Looks Like

I caught this book at the very tail end of a Kindle Daily Deal back at the beginning of January. It was nearing midnight, and when I checked the "Daily Deal" section, I zeroed in on this cover and title. I had previously read and enjoyed The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, and I was aware of this book but never quite sure if I wanted to purchase it. And then, lo and behold, there it was for $1.99! I couldn't resist. ;)

Seeing how close it was to midnight, I snatched it up right away - and right after, the price changed. It was fortuitous timing! Mostly, I'm just glad the sale prompted me to give this book a try, because I loved it even more than Smith's first book. Here's my review...


Here's a description of the book 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?"

My Rating

My Review

The book description sounds cute but suggests that 1) e-mail correspondence takes up a lot of the book, 2) pigs play a prominent role, and 3) the romance is going to be cliche or annoying in some fashion. Happily, while there are e-mails and mentions of a pig and a movie-star-falls-in-love-with-"ordinary"-girl romance, the story exceeded my expectations and went so much deeper than I had dared to hope.

The story begins with Graham and Ellie meeting via e-mail, but as soon as Chapter 1 hits, the e-mails (etc.) are relegated to chapter dividers. I had thought perhaps this might be more of an epistolary novel, so I wasn't sure if I should be disappointed by the actual format. But nope - the "real" story soon had me enthralled.

I adored the setting: the ice cream shop that reminded me of family vacations, the quirkiness of the knickknacks store that displayed Ellie's heart for poetry, the mood-changing beaches, and all the various charms of a small seaside town. It served as a wonderful stage where a sweet romance could be spotlighted.

The pacing is quiet in some ways, but it never really felt so. I was wrapped up in the drama of broken friendships, family secrets, love against the odds, and journeys of discovery. The writing is beautiful, and there's just enough excitement mixed in with the daily trials and simply joys to keep the pages turning and the story intriguing.

So, what does happy look like? Perhaps, in this case, it looks like a reader who enjoyed meeting a beagle named Bagel, seeing the freedom found in revealed truth, embracing family and a small-town community, and delighting in the tender hope of a sunrise.

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