Title: This is What Happy Looks Like
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
I’ve only read two books by Smith, but I think I already know why I find myself enjoying them so much. They’re happy books. I don’t mean that everything is rainbows and sunshine and unicorns. It’s not. But when you finish reading, you just feel happy.
Graham is a movie star, but he’d rather stay at home with his pet pig, Wilbur. Ellie lives with her mom and dreams of being able to do more. When Graham accidentally emails Ellie, the two start a friendship. They don’t know names, but they know the small things. Through those emails, they learn the details about each other, the little things that matter. When Graham convinces the movie production to move the shoot to Ellie’s small Maine town, he knows it’s his chance to finally meet the girl on the other side of the computer. The relationship that develops is sweet and heartwarming.
Ellie knows her life with her mother is the best one she could have had. That doesn’t stop her from wondering what life would be like if she had grown up with a relationship with her father. All she has are foggy memories. She can’t help but feel a little resentful of the life he lives while she and her mother have a home and shop that could use some help and Ellie dreams of attending an Ivy League school, something far out of their budget.
Graham was found by chance. He tried out for a spot in a school play to impress a girl and from there he went straight to Hollywood. He’s still a 17-year-old boy, though. He’s not into the famous life with the fake people and big parties. He wants a more quiet life with his family and the people who mean most to him. He loves acting; he just doesn’t like the life that comes with it.
The relationship brings something out in both of them. Ellie discovers how much she can take and Graham finds he values his family more than anything. They show each other that there is something more that they can hope for. But on top of that, they just make each other happy. Maybe it’s not the best relationship for either of them from on outside observer, but being together makes them happy. It makes everything else in their lives manageable.
This is What Happy Looks Like is the prefect title for this book. Nearly every page of this book just feels happy. This is the book you pick up when you want to smile and feel your heart flutter.