Title – Author: This Is What Happy Looks Like – Jennifer E. Smith
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Format – Source: Hardcover – Library
An accidental email begins an unlikely relationship when seventeen-year-old movie star Graham Larkin mistakenly emails small-town girl Ellie O’Neill about taking care of his pet pig. Over the next three months, Graham and Ellie email each other about everything…except their names. When a location doesn’t work out for Graham’s next movie, he pushes for the movie to film in Ellie’s hometown in Maine, the perfect setting for the movie. When Ellie and Graham finally meet, things go from a simple online connection to a complicated real relationship.
The first thing I have to say is totally superficial, but it’s about the names. First off, every time I saw “Graham Larkin” I mistakenly read it as “Bryce Larkin” because of Chuck and so I kept picturing Matt Bomer and it really threw off the whole teenager thing. Second, I’m always inclined to pick up a book when my name is used for a character (Ellies FTW!). So I probably would’ve read this one even if it hadn’t been book club’s pick of the month. Unfortunately, my name wasn’t enough to make me like this book.
Quite honestly, I don’t know what to say. There’s nothing about it that’s really bad. The writing is competent. The plot is formulaic, but that’s not always a bad thing. I guess my issue really lies with that fact that it was so bland. Every part of the story is a cliche. The movie star who doesn’t care about fame and is secretly a normal guy with a heart of gold. The small-town girl he falls for who doesn’t care about movie stars and who has a secret past. The impossibility of their relationship. The best friend who gets jealous. The superficial and stunningly beautiful female costar. I can’t think of anything original about this book.
All of that would’ve been okay (I mean, cliches are used for a reason) if I’d been able to form any sort of emotional connection with the characters. The most I can say about either Ellie or Graham? That they’re nice. Nice is such a placeholder word, which is exactly what these characters are. I didn’t connect with them and their romance, if you can even call it that, didn’t produce any sparks. Nothing made me feel.
Their romance falls dangerously close to instalove. Yes, they email constantly for three months, but there’s a significant difference between an online relationship and an in-person relationship. Then there’s the fact that once they do meet, they spend a few days together before Ellie freaks out and they don’t speak for three weeks before finally getting back together for Graham’s last few days in town. So basically they barely spend any time together.
4 – bad but still readable – Gilderoy Lockhart