|THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE|
Jennifer E. Smith
And let me tell you: for me, This is What Happy Looks Like blows The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight out of the water. The story (told in alternating third-person perspectives) of a girl in small-town Maine ending up an accidental e-pen pal to a boy whose identity she doesn't know is great. Of course there are plenty of opportunities for internet safety speeches here, but the book doesn't take that direction because this is a book about sweet and unexpected love. Ellie and Graham follow the You've Got Mail rules of not revealing anything personal in their letters (although Ellie does accidentally let the name of her town slip), which means that when Graham shows up in Ellie's hometown to shoot his new movie she has no idea that this is the boy she's been emailing. And Graham has no idea that for Ellie, being in the spotlight seems like the worst thing in the world. The secret of Ellie's camera-shy personality is one that in other books could have come across as overly dramatic or heavy-handed, but here is handled exactly perfectly well. Her reasons, when they come to light, aren't as deep and dark as they could have been and fit in well with the rest of the book, with her and her mother's reaction to Graham's fame.
I've said multiple times that a book has to be more than just "cute" or "entertaining" to make me really fall for it, and based on that and how utterly sweet this story is, you'd think this would be an easily forgettable book for me. But it's not. This is What Happy Looks Like is the best sort of romance; it's sweet and funny. The characters are loveable. The more unrealistic aspects are more than made up for by the fact that the emotions felt by these characters are so utterly relatable. These are the most universal of feelings: love, friendship, infatuation. And This is What Happy Looks Like relies on these themes/feelings (along, of course, with Jennifer E. Smith's great writing) to make the unrealistic premise work really, really well. It's a sweet, adorable, wholesome romance that I totally fell into. In short: I loved this book. It's the best sort of YA romance and if this review doesn't seem to do it justice it's just because beyond omg so cute so good awwwwhhh!!! there's really no better way to describe or explain how I feel about this book.
(Also you can note that this is the first five-star book I've read in all of 2013. Step it up, year.)