January 12, 2013 by Alice in Readerland
Title: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Poppy/Little Brown
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.
“There are so many ways it could have all turned out differently.” The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight tells me in the opening sentence, and by the time I get to the ending sentence, the only thought in my mind is Why didn’t I read this book sooner?
I loved, loved, loved Jennifer E. Smith’s writing style; it was very beautiful, unique, flowing, and is a huge part of why this book now has a place on my favorites list. Here are some more reasons:
I loved the flashbacks Hadley had of her father. You know Hadley’s angry at him for leaving her. You know she doesn’t want to go to his second wedding, let alone be a bridesmaid in it. I couldn’t blame Hadley; I was prepared to hate him.
But that wasn’t the case. I love how Hadley’s true feelings for her father came through in her flashbacks. She was so close to him, loved and trusted him so much, that it was heartbreaking to think about how, back in the present, their relationship was strained. Jennifer E. Smith’s clever use of flashbacks continued to reveal information, showing how Hadley had claustrophobia and started panicking; how she’s now piecing together that her dad also would panic, yet checked to make sure she was okay. After all these sweet memories, it made me smile to see how Hadley and her dad finally patched up their relationship at the end of the book. One of my favorite chapters was when Hadley was remembering back when she was a little girl and caught a firefly in a jar:
Hadley said nothing, though she hugged the jar a bit closer to her.
“You know what they say,” Dad said, “If you love something, set it free.”
“What if he doesn’t come back?”
“Some things do, some things don’t,” he said, reaching over to tweak her nose, “I’ll always come back to you anyway.”
“You don’t light up,” Hadley pointed out, but Dad only smiled.
“I do when I’m with you.”
To be honest, I find a lot of the romance in books fall flat. The dialogue ends up being too syrupy and clichéd, and I end up wanting to gag. However, this book was refreshingly different. I found the conversations Hadley and Oliver had very witty as they bounced from topic to topic, keeping Hadley distracted from claustrophobia on the long flight Here’s a sample:
Above them, one of the blackened television screens brightens, and there’s an announcement about the in-flight movie. It’s an animated film about a family of ducks, one that Hadley’s actually seen, and when Oliver groans, she’s about to deny the whole thing. But then she twists in her seat and eyes him critically.
“There’s nothing wrong with ducks,” she tells him, and he rolls his eyes.
Hadley grins, “They sing too.”
“Don’t tell me,” he says, “you’ve already seen it.”
She holds up two fingers. “Twice.”
“You do know that it’s meant for five-year-olds, right?”
“Five-to-eight-year-olds, thank you very much.”
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, with its wonderful writing style, sweet story line, and an ending that will leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, has definitely made me fall in love with it. I borrowed this book from the library, but would definitely buy it. I’m looking forward to Jennifer’s next book, This is What Happy Looks Like!
Cynical Cindy Says: I figured out why Oliver was going to London, and what he wasn’t telling Hadley, in the beginning. This really wasn’t the type of book I’d usually pick up, but I really enjoyed it, so what does that tell you?
In the end, it’s not the changes that will break your heart; it’s that tug of familiarity.
“Though it’s [Hadley’s claustrophobia] not as bad until we get up in the air.”
“How come?” he asks. “Plenty of wide open space up there.”
“But no escape route.”
“Ah,” he says, “So you’re looking for an escape route.”
Hadley nods. “Always.”
“Figures,” he says, sighing dramatically, “I get that from girls a lot.”
Even after all this time, even with all she’s said to him and all she still hasn’t, even in spite of her intention to return the book (because that’s how you send a message, not with some unmarked underlined quote in an old novel), Hadley’s heart still flutters at the idea that perhaps she’s been missing something important all this time. And now here it is on the page, staring up at her in black and white.
[Hadley] feeling like Snow White, getting pecked to death by too many helpful forest creatures.
“Time to consult the elephant,” he’d [Hadley’s dad] announce, and somehow, it always worked. It’s really only now that it occurs to her that Dad probably deserved more of the credit than the little elephant.
“That’s it? A good feeling?
“That’s it,” she says. “I think it’s meant to be.”
“I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work that way,” Hadley says with a frown, but Violet only smiles.
“What if it does?”
He was a professor, a lover of stories, and he was building her a library in the same way other men might build their daughters houses.
4 out of 5 teacups