Published by Poppy on April 2nd, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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?
As a true hopeless romantic, the “normal girl meets and falls in love with a famous boy” story makes my heart flutter. No matter how cliché, I really enjoy reading stories like it. And yet… This Is What Happy Looks Like is just lackluster in everything. This review will contain spoilers. Beware. I just can’t review this book without pointing out the idiotic plot points.
So Ellie and Graham meet by accident when Graham misspells an e-mail address. They don’t know who the other is, but they seem to really easily strike up conversations about almost nothing. So Graham, a famous movie star, when in need of a location to shoot his next film, insists on traveling to Ellie’s home town to meet her. After a first cliché mishap of mistaken identity, they meet and instantly know this is true love.
Okay, they talked for three months via e-mails, so it’s not really instalove, but it felt like it. I just feel so cheated. Maybe it’s because I have experience with situations like this, but online contact is vastly different from offline contact. And even if you really like someone online, that’s not necessarily the case offline. But no. They knew it INSTANTLY. He wanted to kiss her INSTANTLY. And just… UGH. What is this??
And the rest of the book only makes it worse. Why? They were together for all of two days, before Ellie freaked out about the paparazzi shizzle and started avoiding him like the plague. For THREE WEEKS. And during that time, all they do is pine for each other. Then when they’re finally reunited, you once again see them together for only THREE DAYS. Guys, this isn’t a heart-throbbing romance. This is just odd. They’re pretty cute together, for sure, but I don’t buy it. Whereas I think the concept asked for a happy-go-lucky, totally feel-good kind of romance, I think Jennifer placed way too much emphasis on the underlying “drama” in both of their lives that just made the romance kind of stupid.
Like, Ellie is terrified of the paparazzi because she is the illegitimate daughter of a senator. Her mother ran away with her as a child to escape the press and it’s basically implied that all hell would break loose if their true identities were discovered. Well, spoiler alert: it gets out, right at the end. You feel that coming, but still have a certain curiosity about how it would get resolved. Well? “Yeah, they found out your name, and the connection to your father, but it’s really just a footnote, and nobody really cares because all they care about is that you’re Graham’s girlfriend.”
No no no no no. And don’t get me started again about how the press calls her his girlfriend, he refers to her as “his girl” and everyone else in town knows they’re in LOVE when they’ve known each other for FIVE DAYS in total. I don’t count those three weeks they weren’t speaking, and I don’t (really) count the three months of email conversations. Hell no. asdfjkl; Their romance consisted of like 3 kisses and a bit of hand holding. Some more development would have been amazing. I just didn’t see it as a serious relationship, unlike apparently everyone else in the book.
Also, in the end, out of nowhere, Graham suddenly regains contact with his parents, whom he’s been estranged from since he became famous. And it then turns out that, contrary to everything Graham has indicated about them in his narrations, they truly care about him and have been keeping tabs on his activities via magazines and stuff… instead of just talking to him… I’m sorry, WHAT? Talk about a plot element out of nowhere just for your convenience. This made no sense to me. You can’t establish one image of certain characters all throughout the book, and right at the end, over the phone prove that it was totally not like that. I get that this was supposed to just be a feel-good moment, but usually that still has some kind of cause… or build up. Or something.
Summing Up:I started off writing this review wondering, “Hmm… how did I feel about it?” And within 10 minutes it became this full-fledged rant. I read the book, entirely, at a high speed, all things considered, but I just totally disagree with it. This is not the book I hoped it would be. The characters were all right, and the concept held some appeal to me, but it desperately failed in the execution and overall in the plot. So two oranges… because I did manage to finish and while reading didn’t notice how much I disagreed with it.
TL;DR: this is SO NOT what happy looks like.