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.