This is What Happy Looks Like

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

published on April 2nd 2013 by Headline
contemporary | romance

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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?


After reading the synopsis located at the back of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, I was instantly hooked. The concept sounded kind of magical, you know? A purely accidental meeting, the guy travelling across the country to meet the girl, then they live happily ever after! So when the book stooped below my expectations, I was really fucking irritated!

The plot was shallow and pretty simple, but seeing as most contemporary novels are like that, it was okay, I guess. My main issue with the plot was that the problem was really petty. I mean, the problem of the book was basically the relationship of Graham and Ellie. Ellie was really freaked out that the paparazzi who always seem to be lurking around the corner will realize that she was the illegitimate daughter of a senator. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, does she really think that people care that she’s the daughter of a politician? I don’t know about your countries, but in mine, nobody gives a crap about politicians’ personal lives.

Another problem I had with this book, was the writing style. Even in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, I found Jennifer’s writing to be bland and over-descriptive.

Another problem I had were the characters. I hated Ellie. At first, I didn’t because she was smart and hardworking and sweet. But when Graham came into the picture, she was plagued with paranoia, and she became impulsive and dramatic and very irritating. Graham, aside from his stalkerish tendencies, was okay. The rest of the minor characters, I felt indifferent to. They were underdeveloped and you couldn’t really connect to them.

The romance was shit. There wasn’t any, a serious one, anyway! I mean, the emails they exchanged were the development, right? But that was ruined by their first official meeting, cause the instalove got in the way! I also couldn’t feel the chemistry between them! It was just so, so disappointing!

I think the only thing I like about this book was the ending. Jennifer ended it perfectly. I didn’t really yearn for more, yet it wasn’t dragging.

Overall, this book was a bust. (For me, anyway.)

 A quickie overview:

If you’re a fan of Jennifer’s work, you could read and love this. If not (maybe you’ve tried one of her books and didn’t enjoy it), you wouldn’t. Probably. I think this is one of those reader-and-mood depending reads.


Skulls 1.5

1.5 skulls


Are you a J. E. Smith fan? No? Do you plan to check out her books?

Dyan has the tendency to get irritated with most heroines. It’s just something she’s always been really over-analyzing. She tends to like the heroes/love interests more.

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21 thoughts on “Review: This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

  1. This is the second time I read a negative review about this book. Too bad I’ve had high expectations with this one since everybody seems to be liking Smith’s work. I love contemporaries but petty conflicts and annoying MCs? Nevermind. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Dyan. :)


  2. I think I was too kind with my rating (3 Stars), but the things that you pointed out, I agree with, too. I really didn’t think the romance did it for me. I guess, my rating was due to the fact that it was an easy read.


  3. Wow, you really didn’t like this. I did like This is What Happy Looks Like, but it isn’t a favorite at all. I could understand part of Ellie’s paranoia, though, about the paparazzi, but, I do agree that it got a little much. But I also think a lot of her fear was learned from her mother, who did not have a good experience with the whole thing when she first had Ellie. So that’s why I could understand some of Ellie’s fears.

    I thought the romance was okay. I did love the emails, but I wanted them to spend more time together when Graham was in Maine. I did really like Graham, though, and I felt bad that he was so lonely.


  4. Ohh, shoot. Yeah, I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing in First Sight either. It’s what’s bothering me in Since You’ve Been Gone atm. Too descriptive and to-the-tiniest-details =/ It depends on what scale politician you are imo. A senator/prime minister/president etc–that’s something people are interested in.Sorry you didn’t really think much of it :( I hope your next book is better, Dyan!


  5. I’m sad this is the first one I read of Jennifer E Smith’s, because like you I was disappointed. If I read it again now I wouldn’t give it three stars, I don’t think. I agree with all the things you said. It started off SO well with the emails, which were adorable, then kind of petered out as soon as they met. I do want to try some of her other books, though.


  6. Well, this looks like this was an issue of extreme character devolvement. I hate it when a girl with a strong and sweet personality suddenly turns into a dramatic, clingy hollow shell of what she once was all because of a boy. That just sucks, dude! I was never a fan of Jennifer Smith anyway so most probably not touching this one.

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews


  7. I certainly didn’t like this one. It was such a fail for me, and after reading all three books of hers, I would say that this one was the weakest. It was so focused on the romance that there wasn’t anything else to make up for the fact that the romance was pretty bad. And so, it was a total fail.


  8. Wow, you really didnt like this book! I’m sorry you couldnt connect with Ellie, and the whole novel being a bust is such a bummer. I certainly hope you enjoy your next read, though! I heard a lot of amazing things about this author, so I’m still going to try it out, but I won’t keep my expectations as high, thanks to you! Great review, Dyan :)


  9. I rated this 4 or maybe 5 stars. Just because I read it at the right time :D I read this after I read a very… disturbing novel. I do agree that it was petty and maybe a little immature. But if you liked The Statistical, then I should probably check that out. :D


  10. It’s a bummer you didn’t enjoy this one. It’s pretty much impossible to enjoy a story when you dislike the main character so much. The same thing happened to me recently. I still want to read this one because I enjoyed The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight but it’s not on the top of my list.


  11. I haven’t read anything by Jennifer E. Smith yet, and is it bad that I’ve never really felt the urge to? And this review kind of confirms my feelings! I doubt I would’ve liked this much either. I hate it when the main conflict is always small and petty, but the author still makes the main character blow it out of proportion. It grates on my nerves, honestly. Heh, I think a lot of people do care about our politicians’ personal lives and affairs over here. Not me, though, but I don’t follow the politics in my country THAT closely, so… :P

    Over-descriptive writing is a huge no-no for me. Apart from breaking up the flow of the story quite a bit, most of the time it makes the book pretty boring as well. And if there’s one thing I can’t take, it’s a slow book. I’m just too impatient!

    Ew, the romance. The moment I saw instalove, I knew this book and I could never be happy together.

    Great review, Dyan! Sorry this didn’t work out for you, but at least now I know to stay away from it, right? ;)


  12. *sigh* It sucks that you weren’t a fan of this one Aimee :( I happened to actually really like it when i read it last year but i went in knowing it was a fluffy book that was going to have major problems and all but for a fluffy read i managed to enjoy it. Sure this book had faults..many of which you listed here but i was just somehow able to put them at the back of my mind.
    Great review! Hopefully your next read is better!


  13. I read The Geography and it didn’t really float my boat…although I kind of want to try the book of hers (name fails me atm!!) that’s being made into a movie! The Statistical Probability? Is that it?! (Darn my terrible memory! XD) Well, I do know in Australia if a politician has a scandal or something it’s HUGE. We have had premiers resign over that sort of stuff. o.o Bit crazy!


  14. I’m reading my second book of hers at the moment, The Geography and it’s not bad, just doesn’t hold the same magic as Statistically. They do remind me of one another, same adventure type romance, but one aspect I really enjoy is that het characters don’t live in each others pockets. Rwally sorry that you didn’t enjoy it more but great review regardless :)


  15. I’ve been hesitant to read her books because they all seem so cliche and dull. This sounds like something I wouldn’t enjoy at all. Cute premise but poor execution I guess. In my country, the media likes to pick on a politician’s personal life because sometimes it really shows the kind of person they are, and why they make the decisions they make. Our current one is a bit of a train wreck.

    Wonderful review Dyan, sorry this one sucked so much :(


  16. I’ve still never picked up a Jennifer E. Smith book! I really need to jump on the bandwagon don’t I? I don’t know which one I’d start with but I’m really considering reading this one. It sounds amazing! :D


  17. I just want to ask. what is the conflict in the story? and the values/ moral lesson?
    because my cousin just need it for her book report.. plss help.. thanks..


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