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Every month, TAB editor Kristin will be sharing her thoughts on five titles from our… Read More

June 1, 2016

Boy Reading Featured
This Is What Happy Looks Like

We’ve all done it—mistyped an e-mail address and sent a note to the wrong person. Or received a text that’s obviously meant for someone else. Most often we realize the error, and that’s the end of it. On occasion, the message is important enough that we reply and let the sender know that there’s been a mistake. A quick exchange, and it’s over and forgotten.

That simple premise—a mistyped e-mail and a courtesy reply—is the seemingly straightforward opening to Jennifer E. Smith’s This Is What Happy Looks Like. What follows is one of my favorite YA novels of the year.

When G sends E a note about taking care of his pet pig, he has no idea that he’s reaching out to a girl in a small Maine town. When E replies to tell him he’s got the wrong person, she has no idea she’s begun corresponding with the teen heartthrob of the moment. They strike up an anonymous, though heartfelt, friendship. Their daily e-mail routine includes descriptions of what happy looks like—the beach at sunrise, a triple-scoop ice cream cone, a pet pig rolling on the grass.

Eventually G is able to move production of his new movie to the town where Ellie lives. Of course, there are mix-ups, confused identities, missed connections, and a few very big secrets on both their parts. And of course, they meet and have to navigate the shift from virtual to real-life friendship and romance.

When I finished the book, I immediately described it to friends as the perfect summer read—a grade A romantic comedy in a book. And in the summer, that is exactly what happy looks like to me.

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June 20, 2013