When 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. Read more...
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When 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?
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-03-04
- Reviewer: Staff
Like Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (2012), this sweet novel has a premise worthy of the movies. When a lonely teenage Hollywood heartthrob accidentally e-mails a 16-year-old girl in smalltown Maine, there is an immediate spark. Graham arranges to shoot his new movie in Ellie’s seaside town, surprising her with his true identity and leaving levelheaded Ellie feeling “wildly unbalanced.” This is partly due to Graham’s fame, but also because she fears the spotlight would expose a family secret. The cute, brief e-mails between Ellie and Graham showcase the rapid but authentic connection between them (putting aside that they would be far more likely to text each other in this situation). Because the book is told from both characters’ perspectives, readers will understand their vulnerabilities as they try to take their relationship into the real world. Ellie’s family secret may not seem severe enough for the consternation it creates, and readers may be exasperated by the dramas that keep the couple apart. However, the charming leads, smalltown backdrop, and absurdly romantic conceit will win hearts. Ages 15–up. Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM. (Apr.)
Summer love in the spotlight
Ellie O’Neill is probably the last person you’d expect to get involved with a movie star. She doesn’t really care about celebrities, and a secret in her own family’s past has made her skittish of even the idea of fame. Thanks to a misspelled email address, however, Ellie finds herself the unwitting pen pal of none other than Graham Larkin, teen heartthrob, who is about to start shooting a film in Ellie’s coastal Maine hometown. This shooting locale is more than just a coincidence, though—Graham pressured the director to choose it because he wants to meet the funny, smart, poetry-quoting girl with whom he’s been corresponding for the past several months. Even if she has no idea—yet—who he is.
Over the course of a single summer, Graham and Ellie’s relationship is characterized by a series of awkward encounters, miscommunications and mixed signals—and by some truly sweet and lovely discoveries. Graham loves Ellie because she sees him for who he is, apart from all the fame and rumors. Ellie loves Graham because he seems to hear and understand her when no one else does. But what will happen if the press gets wind of their romance? Can Ellie risk having her family’s secret uncovered? And can Graham’s career survive him dating someone other than another A-list star?
Told through adorably worded emails and chapters from both Ellie and Graham’s points of view, This Is What Happy Looks Like is both breezy and thoughtful. Author Jennifer E. Smith’s bittersweet romance certainly stretches the boundaries of believability at times, but readers likely won’t care as they’re swept away by the small-town resort atmosphere and the aura of Hollywood glamour that underlie Graham and Ellie’s love story.