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This Is What Happy Looks Like

This is What Happy Looks Like - Jennifer E. Smith Actual rating is 3.5If I could put off writing this review forever, I would. This is What Happy Looks Like and I had a very strange relationship and one that I just can’t find the words for. In the beginning this was such a sweet story and I loved how these two people were brought together by a fluke & an intense online correspondence ensued. I read the first 30% of the novel with a happy grin splayed across my face and was heartwarmed by the story, but somewhere along the way I just stopped caring that much. The story remained really good (the writing and use of perspective is unparalleled - more on that later) and yet I didn’t find myself caring about some of the plot as much as I should have.The first thing that I want to talk about is the writing and use of the third person perspective here. I oftentimes find myself getting frustrated with this perspective and unable to connect to the characters. I find it hard to get a feel for who they are when we are simply this all seeing person and not inside them dealing with their emotions. That was not the case here at all. There was actually a point about 20% in where I sat back and thought “holy crap this is third person!” I was blown away by how I was connecting with the characters and feeling everything that they went through. I also loved the writing in general, the use of flashbacks didn’t feel too heavily relied on and were always welcome additions to the story. It’s written in a very pretty, yet relatable way, Smith achieves a great balance here.The characters were also well developed and each flawed in their own way. Ellie was an intelligent girl who had grown up with a family secret that she kept from everyone. In keeping the secret from her best friend, Quinn she realized that it’s kind of easy to keep things to yourself and kept her email relationship a secret as well. There was a lot of conflict between Ellie and Quinn in this novel because of that and I felt like I never really got a grip on their relationship, it didn’t feel as strong as it was supposed to be because they were not talking for 85% of the book. Quinn had seemed like a sassy girl who really cared about Ellie’s well being but I wish we got more of that in the book, instead of simply being told that’s how she is.The romance is very sweet and I liked Graham a lot. I think a lot of the story was Ellie and him having to come to grips with the turmoil in their own life in order to finally work on things with each other. I liked the moments when they were together, Graham was incredibly sweet to Ellie and really struggled with her finding out who exactly he was. I also liked the star side of Grahams story. The paparazzi are always on his tail and it’s pretty intense how in his face they are. I think his story is a relevant one of how someone thrust into stardom might feel. He was really displaced in this new life, and was trying hard to have his parents realize that he was still the same boy he always was. Having liked the characters and the writing so much you are probably left wondering what went wrong? Well I’m not exactly sure, somewhere along the way, I think probably when Ellie set out to find her father the story just lost me. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is, maybe it just felt a little too long and dragged out to me. I wanted more of the romance between Graham and Ellie that had me smiling in the beginning, but the book kept stepping away from that. I had come into the book wanting a sweet romance and I feel like for much of the story I was robbed of that to deal with their family issues.My issue with the book is entirely personal and I am sure that a lot of people will disagree with me but it’s just how I felt about it. The story is full of charm, fantastic writing and really good characters but everything just felt a little too easy for me. I am a huge fan of Jennifer E. Smith’s writing and can’t wait to read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, but this story just went off in too many directions for me and because of that the romance fell flat towards the end.