Thursday, May 23, 2013

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

"If fate sent you an e-mail, would you answer?"

It all started with a mistyped e-mail address and a message about a pig. Soon Ellie O’Neill finds herself in an online relationship with G. both seventeen, Ellie lives in the tiny, seaside town of Henley, Maine and G lives in California. Never revealing their names to one another, Ellie learns that the pig’s name is Wilbur and G is the son of teachers and a fan of Charlotte’s Web. Quickly, Ellie finds she is staying up late to chat and looks forward to G’s e-mail correspondence.
Ellie loves sleepy little Henley during the off season but feels claustrophobic when the tourists arrive beginning Memorial Day. She and her best friend Quinn work at the ice cream shop, Sprinkles. On her way to work one morning, Ellie is dismayed to see that the town has been taken over by a movie set and teen heartthrob, Graham Larkin. Just before Ellie’s shift ends, Quinn has a mishap with a chocolate milkshake. Ellie offers Quinn her monogrammed work shirt even though it is too long. Stepping out onto the sidewalk, Ellie notices Graham Larkin walking her way, trying to be inconspicuous. As he passes her by, he looks up at Ellie and she is memorized by his eyes. She also realizes that he looks sad and wonders why a famous movie star would be so sad. Ellie catches Quinn’s eye as Graham, enters the ice cream shop as the paparazzi descends. Quinn smiles as Ellie walks away.
Graham Larkin is sad. His life has changed drastically since he was discovered during a high school drama production in which he was trying to impress a girl. Alienated from his parents and friends, the life of a Hollywood star isn’t for him. A loner and somewhat of a homebody, Graham lives with his pig, Wilbur. When he accidentally sends an e-mail to a seventeen-year-old girl in Maine, Graham sees the opportunity as a clean slate. He can be himself, not the perceived public image. Graham believes that E likes him for his true self and he is determined to meet her.
When the location for his next film falls through, Graham pushed for Henley, Maine. Keeping his true intentions a secret, he arrives to the set a few days early to look for the faceless girl that has captured his heart. Making his way to the ice creams hop, he passes a “willowy girl with long red hair.” They make eye contact and Graham realizes that the town of Henley might not be thrilled that he is there. Too late to change his plans, Graham prepares to enter the shop. Relieved to see a stunning girl behind the counter, he is too busy noticing the name embroidered on her shirt, Ellie O’Neill. She eagerly asks him what he wants to order. He is struck by her excited demeanor. Ordering rainbow sherbet because it is both of their favorite, he is dismayed that she makes no comment. Quinn makes small talk with a flirty attitude and Graham asks her for a restaurant recommendation. He then asks her to join him. She agrees and Graham doesn’t realize that he isn’t talking to Ellie.
On their date that night, Graham quickly discovers that he asked out the wrong girl. Hearing his story, Quinn is okay with the situation but wonders why Ellie never told her. She lets Graham know that he probably passed Ellie on the sidewalk. Graham realizes Ellie was the red head he made eye contact with outside of Sprinkles. Quinn tells him to go after Ellie. She is probably at home. Quinn says she will make the waiter (who has a crush on her) eat with her but Graham can pay for it.
Graham makes it to Ellie’s house at nightfall. He sees her on the front porch in a swing. Knowing she only sees him as a shadow, Graham is struck by the sight of her. Ellie thinks that Quinn has stopped by to tell her about her date. She is shocked to find Graham Larkin standing on her front porch. Ellie thinks the situation is a joke when he tells her that he is looking for her. Ellie is confused and wonders why it sounds like Graham is stalking her. Ellie is floored when Graham refers to her dog by its name when he barks. Then he tells her that he wasn’t very creative in naming his pig Wilbur. Ellie realizes that Graham Larkin has been her nameless pen pal.
Feeling embarrassed, Ellie is angry that Graham never revealed who he really was. He apologizes and tells her in no way is she stupid. She got to know him. Thinking about it, Ellie realizes that she did get to know the real Graham Larkin, not the one portrayed in the tabloids. Her mother interrupts and is shocked by who is standing on the front porch. Graham introduces himself to her mother. He then tells them he is really glad someone told him about Henley and leaves. Ellie suddenly realizes that she is too.

Can two people from such different backgrounds find a way to get together? Will the secrets Ellie and her mother have worked so hard to keep buried be unearthed? Can Quinn forgive Ellie for keeping her online relationship a secret? And will this be the best or worse summer of Graham and Ellie’s lives?

Visit Jennifer E. Smith’s website.

No comments:

Post a Comment