There is nothing I like more than a good summer romance and I’m happy to report that Jennifer E. Smith’s This Is What Happy Looks Like is a great summer romance. It’s about Ellie O’Neill, a seventeen-year-old from a small beach town in Maine, who gets an e-mail that’s meant for someone else and responds to it to be polite. It turns out that the e-mail is from a teenage guy in California and the two of them embark on a friendship writing to each other every night. Although Ellie is curious about what this guy Graham looks like she likes the fact that she can be anonymous with him; she can tell him anything and he won’t judge her.
When summer comes to Ellie’s town it is inundated not just with tourists but a movie crew and tons of tween fans of the film’s star, Graham Larkin. When Ellie gets over the shock of finding out that this guy she’s been talking to for months is actually a movie star she learns that he persuaded the producers to film in the idyllic oceanside town of Henley, Maine. Ellie’s summer gets turned upside-down by not just the attention of this super-good-looking actor, but the paparazzi that trails him around. Ellie’s mother is extremely displeased with this situation because their family has secrets that she doesn’t want to be exposed. Ellie’s caught between how much she likes Graham and her wish to preserve her family’s privacy.
I loved this book so much; the characters are so well-drawn and I felt like they were people I wanted to be friends with. The thing I liked the most, though, was the setting. I love going to York Beach and walking around all the tourist shops. The store that Ellie’s mom owns sounds just like one of those, selling saltwater taffy and lobster photo frames. This is the perfect beach read, but it would work just as well on a cold winter’s night to warm you up.
I knew I would like this book because one of my favorites of last year was Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, which is about two teens who fall in love during an overnight flight from America to England. After reading this one, Jennifer E. Smith is officially my new favorite romance writer. She mixes romance with memorable characters and terrific settings. I highly recommend both of these novels and I can’t wait to read her next one.