This is What Happy Looks Like Audiobook Review

this is what happy looks like audibleBook: This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith, Hachette Audio, April 2013

Book Info: Purchased audiobook, Running time: 8 hrs, 37 mins. Read by: Andrew Sweeney and Marcie Millard. Also available in hardcover or e-book, 406 pages from Poppy

About the book:

If fate sent you an email, would you answer? When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O’Neill an email about his pet pig, the two 17-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?

(source: Audible)

This is What Happy Looks Like is very sweet and has all the ingredients of a romantic comedy. The story is familiar- movie star falls for an everyday girl- but it’s still a charming read. The email correspondence “meet cute” had me rooting for this unlikely pairing from the beginning. There’s also family secrets, friendship drama, financial woes, a movie shoot in small town Maine, paparazzi, a beagle named Bagel, and Wilbur the pet pig. Sadly, I wasn’t totally swept off my feet by Happy the way I was with Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – maybe my expectations were too high? But I was entertained nonetheless.

I liked the dual POV in Happy, and Ellie and Graham both have interesting problems they’re dealing with. Ellie is hiding a big family secret, and working like a dog to pay for a summer college course. And Graham is coming to terms with his celebrity and where he wants to take his career. It’s cute that the girl who doesn’t want to be photographed falls for the guy who is always trailed by paparazzi. The two meet over email and there are many email exchanges in the book, and that was a bright spot for me.

The writing, plot and characters are pleasant and there are charming details in the Maine setting. I just was missing that oomph and wow factor in this one overall. I think that this book will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen- the writing, setting and overall tone of the book reminded me a lot of Dessen’s books. The romance is innocent, and the story touches a lot on family, finances, and friendship.

I listened to the audiobook, performed by Andrew Sweeney (Proxy) and Marcie Millard. Once I found out that email exchanges were used so much in the plot, I worried that the audiobook would be a bad call. (Sometimes having email addresses and dates/times spelled out over and over can get repetitive.) But, happily that was not the case and I think the audio actually made the story more enjoyable. The pacing and tone worked well, and the voices were a match to the characters personalities.

This is What Happy Looks Like is a sweet comfort read that all ages can enjoy. It doesn’t break new ground in contemporary YA but it’s a nice breezy read, if a little forgettable. I’m looking forward to seeing what Smith comes up with next in 2014’s The Geography of You and Me.

This is What Happy Looks Like is a YA Fiction Cybils nominee.


13 thoughts on “This is What Happy Looks Like Audiobook Review

  1. quix689 says:

    I had pretty much the same thoughts as you on this one. I adored The Statistical Probability, but I found this one lacking, even though all the right factors were there. I agree that it was still a decent read, though. This is still an author I want to read more of!

    1. Lucy says:

      I’m sure I’ll check out the next book too. You’ve nailed it- all the right factors were there, but it didn’t completely sell me.

  2. bookgoonie says:

    I liked Stat Prob, but thought the story was a little on the light side. So I was worried that more of that might be the way of future books. But darn it, her covers are like Sirens beckoning me to read them.

    1. Lucy says:

      She definitely scored in the cover department! They contrast with the reality of the love story between the pages.

  3. BermudaOnion says:

    This was predictable but I found it fun and adorable. I loved that there wasn’t a happily ever after ending.

    1. Lucy says:

      I like that this author favors a more realistic, open ended conclusion rather than HEA. Refreshing.

  4. Andrea says:

    I started this audiobook a few weeks ago, but after 8 solid minutes of “to,” “from,” “subject,” “date” and “time”, I couldn’t take it anymore and turned it off. Does that end eventually? I would really like to listen to the story, but it might be better if I just bought the kindle version.

    1. Lucy says:

      Andrea, that was exactly what I was worried about with the audio! The email exchanges were really distracting in the Attachments audiobook so I was thinking why am I doing this again? But, after the pair meet in Happy the emails die down.

      Maybe you can get the book at the library? Audible has a good return policy too 🙂

  5. Anna says:

    Audiobooks haven’t been my cup of tea in the past, but I’m thinking maybe I’ve tried books that were too serious and all the starting and stopping when I left the car or wherever I was listening was too abrupt for me. Might work better with something light and sweet like this!

  6. Sunny says:

    I’m glad that the narrators sounded like their parts, but I was with you, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as her previous one. It was just…eh. Maybe high expectations, maybe writing flaws.

  7. Mike says:

    Sounds like a very cute YA book. I think if I was a few years younger I’d enjoy it more, but at least if need a light read/listen maybe I’ll grab this one. Thanks for the review. 🙂

  8. This sounds like a fun read!

  9. MsJohannah says:

    This sounds like a great read! I must add it to my list!

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