Lucy and Owen meet on a stalled elevator. They are both heading up when the lights suddenly go out and the elevator stops, somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floor. They eventually get rescued only to learn that it is a city-wide blackout. The whole city is dark and in the darkness, these two develop a fast-friendship that never quite disappears…even when they both move out. Lucy moves to Edinburg with her parents while Owen embarks on a cross-country drive with is father. Though the two are far apart, neither can forget the other. Through postcards and the occasional email, they keep in touch, but they wonder if they will ever reunite in the most important way or if they should move on. Can they make it work? Or will they be move on?
Lucy is a sweet, smart girl who is the epitome of a loner. No friends, beyond her brothers, and no desire to go out and make them. Sometimes she is lonely, but she cozies up with a book or goes out to explore NYC and everything is alright. So when the idea of spending the electric-less night alone (because her brothers are off to college and her parents are on yet another world-exploring trip) is too much, she invites Owen to join her. The two connect in a way that shocks them both. They don’t really know each other and yet they feel like they do. She’s an interesting character for me because she is the daughter of obviously wealthy parents (how else could they afford to always been off in Rome or Paris or Barcelona while the kids stay home with a nanny?) and yet she isn’t that snobby rich girl we always imagine. She gets left alone a lot and she doesn’t spend an excessive amount of money (in fact, I think we hardly see her spend any money). She’s bubbly and sweet, which are qualities you don’t expect in a loner. I thinks he’s lonelier than she wants to believe, especially since her brothers left for college.
Owen is definitely lonely. He was decimated by his mother’s death and is just roaming through life, trying to get by without being crushed by the grief. Though we never find out exactly what he listens to, it’s mentioned several times that he is constantly wearing headphones. Owen is just lost. He doesn’t really below in New York City, but he doesn’t below anywhere really and he wants to see the continental US a lot. So when the trip with his dad becomes a reality, he’s thrilled at the chance….but still worried about his dad. And life. And how he is ever going to decide his future.
I loved that for once we get a contemporary YA novel isn’t focused on how attractive this guy is. Don’t get me wrong, both leading characters are pretty enough, but it’s not the sole focus of their relationship. Lucy doesn’t just see him across the room and instantly love him because he’s so hot. Their attraction is so much deeper and more than that. I’ve been reading way too many NA’s lately and they mostly focus on the physical aspect of the relationship. It was so refreshing to get a different take on it, something I think is closer to real life. A relationship based on a connection and caring as opposed to the need to get each other naked as fast as possible. I get that hormones are a big thing, but it was nice to have something leave that bit out for once.
I really want to go on and on about the writing and the story and the well thought out plot (because all of those are true), but my brain is just mush at this point. I’m so in love with this story that I cannot find adequate words to articulate my joy, which is a problem I’m finding a lot lately. Jennifer just has this awesome ability to draw you into her worlds. You love the characters, you want their happiness as if it was your own, and your hopes are endlessly dashed as the story progresses because you don’t know if they are going to make it work. You want it more than you can express, but there is always that niggling possibility that it won’t happen and how depressed would that make you? Obviously since I love it, that is not the case, but it could have happened!
Another tiny thing about this emotional ride is that Jennifer manages to incorporate just the write amount of wit and humor to keep me giggling. This novel will run you through the ringer, but when they get it right, it’s pure magic.
All you really need to know that Jennifer E Smith is a writing god and we should all worship her. I don’t think this was quite as good as The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight, but it was damn close. Now I’m even more determined to fit This Is What Happy Looks Like into my reading schedule soon because this woman just knows how to make me fall in love. If you’re a fan of Jennifer’s previous works, like contemporary YA, or are just looking for a story to make you fall in love, this is the one for you. It has that magical quality that makes you hope that you’re life will turn into a romance when you get stuck in an elevator. 😉
****Thank you to Poppy, an imprint of Little, Brown Books For Young Readers, for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****