With a page count of 416, I expected way more out of This is What Happy Looks Like. I’m convinced that even with 300 pages, the story would’ve had adequate room to breathe. In fact, I expect a whole lot more depth out of a thicker book, especially when it’s Contemporary. There’s little world building required in Contemporary, so the complexity needs to lie a lot more in the plot and the characters. Sadly, I didn’t see that complexity that I expected.
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 seventeen-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?
Somehow the characters, while not one-dimensional per se, didn’t hold my interest for long. The initial email exchanges were cool and kinda funny too since it turns out Graham had a pet pig but once the book transitioned to “real life”, there wasn’t all that much left to hold my interest. No twists and turns. Just an introduction of conflicts in the first few chapters that were all resolved in a very predictable manner towards the end. Most of the chapters in between read like fillers to me.
The least that could’ve come out of this would’ve been a sweet romance that leisurely unfolded between the pages. Alas, that didn’t happen either. Despite all the time in the world that could’ve been contained in the middle chapters, I have to cry out instalove! View Spoiler »I mean, come on! Graham already planned to spend his week-long break from filming with Ellie practically the moment he laid his eyes on her. Sure, they had emailed each other for a couple of months and so it might come off as though they had known each other a while. All well and good. But the basis of their real life relationship didn’t solidify much over the course of the weeks, so what was the point of it all, I ask! « Hide Spoiler
I don’t mind reading books where readers mostly experience characters’ day-to-day lives and no crazy plot twists happen. They don’t all need to be issues book with heart-wrenching stories. Neither do they have to be so hilarious, I can’t hold my laughter in. I do however require depth in those cases. I want to see what makes those characters tick and why they make the choices the way they do. Even if a book is meant to portray a sweet romance, there has to be something more than just that. There has to be more to the characters and the plot. Doesn’t help that a third through the book I thought, “Here’s a good place to end. I don’t need to read the rest to know what happens anyway.”
That’s why I decided the book just wasn’t for me. It was light-hearted yet so incredibly long-drawn and these two things don’t go well together for me. If a book is light-hearted, then it shouldn’t waste too many words to get to the point. If it’s long-drawn, it better be because it’s building up the suspense and makes the wait worth it. The combination of these two only makes sense to me if some philosophising is thrown in for good measure. That obviously wasn’t the case in This is What Happy Looks Like. It could’ve turned out to be a nice little tale to while away a couple of hours like The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight but for that I found it too thick a book.