Sunday, September 8, 2013

Mini-Reviews: Jennifer E. Smith Novels

This is What Happy Looks Like
Publisher:  Poppy, 416 pages
Publication Date:  April 2, 2013

From Goodreads:
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? 

This book hooked me from the beginning with the e-mails between Graham and Ellie.  Such a cute premise (although not that believable, but hey, it's fiction).  Even though they have such a great relationship by e-mail, they find its a bit more difficult in person, given Graham is such a star.  And Ellie has some secrets of her own that make it even harder.  It makes you realize how difficult it must be to be a movie star and have every move watched by the media and people perhaps only liking you because of who you are.  It's a sweet romance,  although it's not as lighthearted as I expected because of some of the issues Graham and Ellie have to deal with, and the ending is a bit open.  

The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight
Publisher:  Poppy/Little Brown, 236 pages
Publication Date:  January 2, 2012

From Goodreads:
Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. Having missed her flight, she's stuck at JFK airport and late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it. 

I enjoyed this book, but I wish the focus had been more on the romance and less on the family drama.  Especially given the title of the book, I was expecting so much more from the romance.  Just more cute scenes, dialogue, etc.  

The book takes place within a 24-hour span and I liked the premise (missing a flight and then meeting someone you have an instant attraction for--what if you hadn't missed the flight?), but in the end, so much of the book has to do with Hadley's relationship with her dad rather than the budding romance with Oliver, that I have to say I was a bit disappointed.

You Are Here
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 256 pages
Publication Date:  May 19, 2009

From Goodreads:
Emma Healy has grown used to being the only ordinary one in her rather extraordinary family. But when she finds a birth certificate for a twin brother she never knew she had, along with a death certificate dated just two days later, she realizes why she never felt quite whole. She sets off on a trip to visit her brother’s grave. Peter Finnegan, her neighbor, comes along for the ride. Emma thinks they can’t possibly have anything in common, but with each passing mile, they find themselves learning more and more about themselves and each other.

The book alternates between Emma and Peter's POV and their characters were written in such a realistic way (so many awkward moments that rang true).  The story is thoughtful and moving and takes you on such a fantastic journey.  The writing was beautiful, which I never usually notice.  "He wondered if there was a rule that you to love all of someone, or whether you could pick out only the best parts, like piling your plate full of desserts or at a buffet table and leaving the vegetables to go cold in their little metal bins." What a great line.  

The ending made me smile.  I absolutely loved this book.  Read it.

Posted by:  Pam


  1. I loved The Statistical Probability but I wasn't as crazy for This Is What Happy Looks Like. Like you the beginning for TiWHLL, I was hooked with the emails but then for me it got kind of slow.

    Great reviews!

    1. With the emails in the beginning, I expected the dialogue to be much better than it was. I guess I just expected, from the summaries, that those first two would be lighter and fluffier than they were. ~Pam

  2. So I haven't read anything by Jennifer E. Smith yet. I have heard such mixed reviews about the first two books, and nothing about the last book (probably because it's much older and predates my YA reading days). I should probably give one of her books a try and at least start forming my own opinion. It sounds like you enjoyed You Are Here the most, so perhaps I will start with that one. I am also intrigued by her upcoming book The Geography of You and Me. Great post!

    1. I definitely liked You Are Here the most, but it may be because I read it last and I knew what to expect from the author. Also, the summary of the first two books (Statistical Probability and This is What Happy Looks Like) made it seem like they would be lighter and fluffier than they actually were. But I still enjoyed all three of them. ~Pam