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This Is What Happy Looks Like Paperback – December 24, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-This well-crafted, character-driven love story opens with an endearing prologue told in emails. When 16-year-old Ellie O'Neill accidentally starts an exchange with a stranger, she doesn't expect their virtual conversations to turn into a romance. But over the course of a few months, that's exactly what happens. Ellie doesn't know the boy's name until he shows up on her doorstep. He's Graham Larkin, a famous movie star whose next film just happens to be shooting in her quiet Maine town. While most of the girls are dying to be in her shoes, she has reservations. Ellie is the illegitimate daughter of a prominent politician, and her mom moved them to escape the unrelenting media. Now they struggle financially in order to maintain their privacy. Graham's life is anything but private. However, though he is handsome and wealthy, the teen is also lonely and uninspired. His parents, uncomfortable with his fame, choose to distance themselves from him, while his controlling manager wants Graham to date his beautiful costar for the good publicity. Despite those obstacles, Ellie and Graham sustain a sweet and genuine romance. Their chemistry is undeniable, and readers will wonder about their love story long after the last page. An excellent recommendation for fans of Maureen Johnson.-Kimberly Garnick Giarratano, Rockaway Township Public Library, NJα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
When “GDL” gets an e-mail address wrong, the surprise recipient, “EONeill,” decides to reply. The two develop a deep and intimate rapport despite guarding their true identities. But down-to-earth movie star Graham Larkin is certain that Ellie is someone special, and he lobbies to shoot his new movie in “the middle of nowhere, Maine,” Ellie’s hometown. Ellie is shocked to learn who Graham is, and she is anything but thrilled by the prospect of dating a teen heartthrob. Meanwhile, the paparazzi trailing Graham threaten to upturn the quiet, carefully constructed life Ellie and her mother have nurtured to smooth over a high-profile secret. The shared third-person narration lends a quiet insight into these two likable characters whose histories and flaws are relatable and fully fleshed out. The blend of celebrity glitz and small-town coziness gives this summer love story a pleasant frame, and it will leave readers wishing for more time with this endearing couple as the sun rises on their last morning together. Grades 8-11. --Heather Booth --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Ellie O’Neill is a typical teenager living in a typical “middle-of-nowhere” small town in Maine. On a very typical day, shortly before the summer after her Junior year of high school, she receives an email from a boy from a “middle-of-everything” town in California named Graham Larkin. The email was sent to her by mistake, but sometimes a mistake ends up being someone’s destiny and fate. This boy just happens to be a huge movie star, but Ellie is not aware of this little detail of his life because they never exchange names. The two end up hitting it off, and emailing back and forth for months. Then summer rolls along, and Graham ends up shooting a movie in her little town in Maine, and just like that, their love story begins.
This book is what happy looks like. It was an enjoyable before bedtime read that I didn’t want to put down, even when my eyes were starting to feel weighted. There are a few things that disturbed be about the book, that I couldn’t get over:
1. I didn’t like how Ellie just accepted the fact that Graham decided to shoot a movie in Maine, even though he had never met Ellie, in person. This wasn’t a coincidence (I think the book would have been better if it was.) Graham saw an opportunity to suggest Maine as the location, and when it came through, I don’t think he thought about how creepy that actually was. If I was chatting with someone online, and then they just showed up at my doorstep, I think I would be a little more upset than Ellie was. I guess since he was a movie star, and not a serial killer, it was okay, but you never know. This is why they teach kids not to talk to strangers online. It doesn’t always work out happily-ever-after. Sometimes happy doesn’t look like this, it looks like the next big Lifetime movie.
2. I didn’t like the subplot of Ellie’s Dad. I feel like it was put into the book for a good reason, and then kind of blown over at the end. Nothing was ever resolved, at least I don’t think it was, and I still have more questions about him and if their relationship will ever develop.
3. The relationship between Ellie and her best friend Quinn was kind of lacking. I don’t think they had enough book time, and I think their relationship should have been patched up way before it actually was. Their story could have expanded the book even more, and I think their subplot didn’t get enough attention either.
Things I loved about the book:
1. Whoopie pies. YUM! I actually think they’re the sweet treat of PA, because I see them everywhere! The book just made me want to run over to the Amish Market and get one, or at least run to Starbucks.
2. Ellie’s mom’s shop. I love beach shops. I love Knick Knack shops. I love postcards! The scene with the little girl picking out a postcard brought a tear to my eye.
3. Maine. While I was reading this book, I told my husband I wanted to visit Maine next summer. He said yes! Too bad I’m allergic to shellfish, I could really go for some lobster.
4. The beach. Oh, how I adore the ocean. Any book that involves the summer/beach is awesome in my mind. Especially when it’s cold and winter, like it is now.
I enjoyed the story and feel that the author is a good story teller. This was my first by this author and it was a good first impression. I will read more by her.
I felt like the two main characters were very mature for their 16 and 17 years on this planet. The story was kind of slow to start but after it picked up speed I didn't want to put it down.
There were times, mostly in the beginning that I felt like there were too many unnecessary details either about the setting or the characters in general.
I also felt like the ending was a bit abrupt and left me as a reader hanging. There were a lot of lose ends concerning Ellie's dad and some other things. This might be the author's style but I hope not because it feels like a let down when a lot of things aren't resolved. I'm hoping there is a sequel or something in the works.
There was romance but it was subtle and I think that is appropriate for the age level this novel is marketed for. It is a clean book.
This is What Happy Looks Like is about a boy named Graham who has a pet pig, prefers his own company oh and did I mention he's a well known heartthrob celebrity? It's also about Ellie, a girl from a small town living with her mom who dreams of going to Harvard to study poetry.
Sadly I don't really have anything to say about this read. There were things I didn't understand, like why Graham reacted on his excitement to see Ellie without thinking about who was around or what may or may not happen considering he's surrounded by people. Or why Ellie's best friend was such a b**** the majority of the time.
I guess I didn't really feel that build up within their friendship/relationship and I while I understood that Graham wanted to be a normal teenager sometimes with a normal life I didn't feel it. Unlike TSPoLaFS it didn't have a darker note to it or a deeper meaning. But it was an enjoyable read as something to end the summer with!