Actual rating: 3.5/5 stars
More reviews can be found at: Maji Bookshelf
This is What Happy Looks Like will not disappoint fans of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Smith's earlier contemporary novel. I personally enjoyed both stories, but didn't love them. I think that Smith's writing doesn't appeal to me 100% which is why I never really completely connected with the plot and characters. Nevertheless, This is What Happy Looks Like is a story filled with a ton of humor, friendship, romance, layered characters, and a beachside setting, the type of setting I love in contemporary novels.
I have to say, the plot of this novel is one that could create endless funny, butterfly inducing, and cute scenes and story lines. A celebrity actor, think Zac Efron, accidentally emails a small town girl who he thought was his pet walker. Not only that but his pet is a pig! That in itself had me laughing every time I remember it. When the misunderstanding is cleared, meaning the girl isn't the pet walker, they start to send emails back and forth. Of course Graham hid from Emma his celebrity status which is to be expected. After a couple of months, Graham ends up in Emma's town for his outdoor filming for his next movie. You all now think it will be a happily ever after from now but that's not the case.
Emma is a very complex character, she tries to stay away from the spotlight, her and her mom, for some reasons that you find out later in the story. I loved that Emma wasn't selfish or too selfless, she thought about her family first but at the same time still thought of herself. She has emotional issues in regards to her lack of a father and his high status in the country at the moment. Graham on the other hand has his own family problems and I really felt for him. Imagine getting instant fandom after a movie and then seeing the closest people, your mom and dad, change the way they act around you and treat you like a celebrity, i.e.: stranger. I enjoyed their emotional development but I grew kind of tired of the internal monologues after some point in the novel. I wished there were more time spent together between the two or at least more side characters involved.
This novel is told from both Graham and Emma's POVs and is more of a reflective and healing book than outright romantic. Yes there is romance, but that is secondary to the friendship that both Emma and Graham needed in each other. Like I mentioned before, I didn't connect with the novel completely but I do like Emma, Graham, and their story. Fans of Smith's tSPoLaFS will fall in love with This is What Happy Looks Like!