If fate sent you an email, would you answer?
In This is What Happy Looks Like, Jennifer E. Smith’s new YA novel, perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O’Neill meet—albeit virtually—when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an email about his pet pig, Wilbur. In the tradition of romantic movies like “You’ve Got Mail” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” the two 17-year-olds strike up an email relationship, even though they live on opposite sides of the country and don’t even know each other’s first names.
Through a series of funny and poignant messages, Graham and Ellie make a true connection, sharing intimate details about their lives, hopes and fears. But they don’t tell each other everything; Graham doesn’t know the major secret hidden in Ellie’s family tree, and Ellie is innocently unaware that Graham is actually a world-famous teen actor living in Los Angeles.
When the location for the shoot of Graham’s new film falls through, he sees an opportunity to take their relationship from online to in-person, managing to get the production relocated to picturesque Henley, Maine, where Ellie lives. But can a star as famous as Graham have a real relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie’s mom want her to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?
I loved Jennifer E. Smith’s This is What Happy looks like (read my review here). In the process of fulfilling my craving for the perfect romantic summer read, Smith created a equally demanding craving for the frosting filled, cake/cookie goodness of Whoopie Pies.
The quest for these sweet treats (the official state treat of Maine), provide an interesting background to the developing relationship between Ellie and Graham.
Ellie gave him a sideways glance. “We’re on a quest”, she said, as if it were obvious.
“A quest,”he repeated.”I like that.”
“Like Dorothy trying to find her way home again.”
“Or Ahab looking for the white Whale.”
“Exactly”, she said. “Only we’re on the hunt for Whoopie pies.”
“Aha,” Graham said, looking pleased. “So you’re a believer now.”
She shook her head.”I’m still skeptical. But if there’s anywhere that would have them, it would be this place.”