Ellie O'Neill and her mom live in a tiny little seaside town in Maine. One day she gets an email accidentally sent to her by a stranger and the two become very good friends. They talk about everything and nothing, talking about the things they don't really tell anyone else. Ellie treasures this sweet secret friendship, looking forward to the next email.
Graham Larkin is a Hollywood rising star and, just happens to be the sender of that accidental email that started it all. When the site for his latest movie falls through, he pushes to have the movie set moved to Ellie's town. He's eager to meet the girl who means so much to him, sight unseen. What happens when their online and real lives collide in a tiny hamlet in Maine? Can Graham and Ellie work when his life is so very public and privacy and secrecy are so critical to her?
I have to admit that I liked the cover, but wasn't that intrigued by the premise. Oh yay, I thought, another book where a teenage girl living in anonymity becomes the love interest of a celebrity. Haven't we seen enough of this? Are we giving teenaged girls enough credit by assuming this is what they all want? Happily, this was not that kind of book. Graham is struggling with his fame and how alone and lonely it makes him. He's feeling so estranged from his teacher parents, living on his own in L.A., well, he's got his pig, Wilbur, so he's not totally alone. The sudden changes in his way of living make him feel so different from his parents. He knows they've always wanted college for him, and now, he's afraid that his choices are letting them down.
Ellie and her mom have always struggled, but managed to get by in tiny Hadley, Maine. They've got their little yellow cottage on the beach and her mom's store Happy Thoughts. But Ellie's mom chose the town as an escape from their life in D.C. and the fact that Ellie's father was a prominent, and married, politician who was working his way up the Republican ladder. They were going to keep ducking the spotlight of political scandal forever, unless they disappeared, so they did.
Ellie and Graham are both very likable characters and heaven knows I enjoy a seaside story. Smith created something really sweet and lovely here. I'm declaring myself a fan. The story was enjoyable, the characters felt real and easy to relate to. All in all, This is What Happy Looks LIke is a fun and interesting story that will appeal to YA lovers.