Today’s Bookanista recommendation is
This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

From GoodreadsWhen 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?

Six Reasons Why You Must Read This is What Happy Looks Like

  1. Characters – Graham and Ellie are so easy to relate to, and so easy to love. They’re genuine and authentic and layered. They’re kind to one another, and considerate of their friends and family. Graham and Ellie both have issues, but they’re not hung up on their troubles in a way that becomes tiresome. 
  2. Setting – Maine! Summer! Small town! Ocean! Ice cream parlor! Movie set! (Enough said?)
  3. Romance – This one’s adorable, guys. Graham and Ellie are fantastic individually, but they make even more sense together. They have obvious chemistry, and their relationship is free of the contrived drama sometimes found in YA romance. The many challenges Graham and Ellie face on their journey to coupledom are formidable, but they feel real. Also, I like that this story doesn’t stretch out the “getting together” phase. There are plenty of sweet and steamy moments scattered throughout the narrative.
  4. Voice – Simply put, Jennifer E. Smith rocks the teen voice. Her books are a fantastic example of how contemporary YA should read.
  5. Email – Graham and Ellie meet online through a fluke email mix-up. Their on-going messages are sprinkled throughout the story, a device that could have taken a hard left into Cheeseville. Instead, the messages impart a quirky sense of fun, and a different way of getting to know the story’s main characters. Loved the emails!
  6. Fate – This is What Happy Looks Like lends  the same warm-and-fuzzy tingles movies like You’ve Got Mail and Serendipity induce. There’s something so romantic and enviable about meant-to-be love. I think fate and real life meld perfectly in this book.

So… What are you waiting for? Pick up This is What Happy Looks Like before this summer ends — you’ll be happy you did!

Don’t forget to check out what my fellow Bookanistas are up to:

Nikki Katz is delighted by CHARM AND STRANGE by Stephanie Kuehn

Stasia Ward Kehoe meanders into adult fiction
to ponder LIFE OF PI by Yann Martel

Jessica Love has cheers for CHALKLINE by Jane Mitchell

Gretchen McNeil  sings out for SECOND VERSE by Jennifer Walkup

Shari Arnold adores ALSO KNOWN AS (AKA) by Robin Benway

Tracy Banghart delves into TOUCHING THE SURFACE by Kimberly Sabatini

Christine Fonseca is held captive by ABANDON by Elana Johnson



17 thoughts on “Bookanistas Rec :: THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE

  1. Rachel (writes things/007) says:

    You know I read Jennifer’s second novel THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY… but didn’t love it, and I always seem to forget she has a debut (about twins and loss and road trips) and her third new book, THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE. I must check it out! If only for the yellow cover. (Love yellow! SO happy!)

    • katyupperman says:

      I actually liked THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE better than STATISTICAL PROBABILITY (though, I really enjoyed that one too!). I love the cover as well, Rachel. It perfectly fits the tone of the story.

  2. Jaime Morrow says:

    I really enjoyed this one. It was exactly what I was in the mood for and Jennifer E. Smith totally delivered. Your six reasons for reading it would probably be my six reasons as well. Can I just say I laughed out loud at “hard left into Cheeseville”. Hahahaha! 😛 You are so right, though. This has been a summer of mostly contemporary for me, and I’ve been pretty lucky with what I’ve read so far. THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE kicked it all off. 🙂

    Great review and rec, Katy!

    • katyupperman says:

      Oh, you know there’s plenty of contemporary YA that takes a hard left into Cheeseville, Jaime. That’s why I appreciate the amazing books that take one of those iffy concepts and totally rocks it.

      I’ve had a summer of pretty great reading myself — can’t complain about that!

  3. Erin Funk says:

    I loved the premise of THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE and I thought the author pulled of the story beautifully. Like you said, there wasn’t too much drama and the issues weren’t overdone. Sometimes it’s nice to just read a sweet story about likable characters. I agree wholeheartedly with all six of your reasons! 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      Thanks, Erin! “Sometimes it’s nice to just read a sweet story about likable characters.” <— Yes! I'm finding myself drawn to these types of stories more and more lately.

  4. Jennifer Pickrell says:

    Warm fuzzies 🙂 I love that feeling when watching movies, when you just know it’s all going to work out. Think I’m gonna bump this one up near the top of my TBR-list.

  5. Tanya says:

    Thanks for the review, Katy. This happens to be what I’m reading right now. I haven’t read a contemporary in a while and this is proving to be a great way to jump back in. I’m about a third of the way through and Graham amd Ellie are just adorable.

  6. karibradley7 says:

    Oh, I really liked this one, too. I love Jennifer E. Smith’s writing (in general) and that cover. Her books get great covers, don’t they? You’re spot-on with, “Graham and Ellie both have issues, but they’re not hung up on their troubles in a way that becomes tiresome.” I have a hard time with issue-y books and this one wasn’t one, but there’s a lot of depth of story and characters which is what makes it lovely. Great review!

    • katyupperman says:

      Her books have fantastic covers! I love their whimsy and bright, bold designs. And yes, Graham and Ellie were cute as can be, and totally endearing. I can’t wait to see what Jennifer E. Smith comes out with next!

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