Teenage girls are going to love this book. This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith is easy, fluffy, romantic, and unbelievable, some of the things that make young adult literature so great. I’m going to be honest that at times, I felt like the cheese factor was just too much in this book. It was pretty predictable and I felt like I should stop reading it, but I trucked through like the professional that I am.
This story starts with an email sent accidentally: seventeen year old Graham is emailing his pet sitter and gets the address wrong. Instead it goes to Ellie, a teenager living on the opposite side of the country. From there, their correspondence takes off, they become fast friends and start to fall for each other even though they don’t know each others names, just first initials. So when Graham actually shows up in Ellie’s town to see her, things get serious fast. But Graham has an identity he hasn’t been completely honest about and so does Ellie.
Teenage love that struggles with secrets, parents, and friendships: classic YA literature. If you’ve been reading my book reviews for any length of time, you’ll know I love a YA love story and proudly admit to staying up all night reading through a good romance. But even this was a little too much for me. I know my middle school girls are going to love it and I have no qualms sharing it with them–the characters don’t do more than kiss occasionally–but it’s just so sugary that it almost felt like a joke. It’s over four hundred pages and I read it in a few hours, at times I felt like I was just pushing through because I needed to see the ending that I already knew was coming. It happened exactly as predicted and that’s okay…tween girls are gonna love it.
This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith is silly and light, a great young adult novel for reluctant girl readers. But I don’t think I can read another one from Smith, it just felt too contrived.