The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
January 2, 2012; 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. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that 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 in seat 18C. Hadley's in 18A.
Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.(courtesy of Goodreads)
If you're like me, your first instinct when hearing about a YA contemporary romance set over a 24 hour period is to stay far far away. It sounds like a million other frothy insta-love stories you've already read. Don't listen to that instinct! The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is magical. It may only be 250 pages and take place over 24 hours, but by the end of the story, it feels like Hadley and Oliver have known each other forever and you've been following their lives for years.
Hadley and Oliver are immediately likeable. At first glance, Hadley seems like the typical sulky teen, but it soon becomes clear that her reticence and complaints are largely justified. After all, if your dad cheated on your mom, divorced her, and then decided to get married to said paramour a year later, wouldn't you be a bit miffed? She handles the drama as well as most teens would. She is a full fledged person: kind, impulsive, funny, angry, regretful, cautious, and more.
Our first impression of Oliver is of a tall guy with dark, longish hair with powdered donut sugar staining his shirt. One of my favorite things about this book is that it's not overly focused on looks. Hadley is attracted to Oliver immediately, but it's his personality that she falls for much more than his looks. There's only a few points within the story where he is physically described at all. Their relationship isn't about smoldering eyes, an awesome smile, or great hair. It's about humor, fun, and understanding.
The book does take place over 24 hours, but it is interspersed with flashbacks of Hadley's year since her dad left. That allows us to understand why Hadley is so upset and why she's traveling to England in the first place. It makes the book feel richer. The flashbacks sometimes felt a bit abrupt, but they weren't overly jarring.
Hadley and Oliver slowly progress from strangers to friends to more than that. Over the course of a long flight, they discuss everything under the sun. While it is a short time period, they probably get to know each other better than a lot of people who have been dating for months. The story is chock full of dialogue as the two banter back and forth. I particularly liked that they sounded smart and funny but not too smart and funny. Some YA novels are so full of witty quips that you'd think the teens were professional satirists. There's a fine line between wit that sounds real and wit that sounds contrived and
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight did a great job of toeing that line.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is a light, sweet, quick read that is sure to put a smile on your face. If I wanted to get picky, I would point out that Hadley's issues with her family evolved a bit too quickly to feel realistic - but at the same time the resolutions didn't seem entirely implausible. Otherwise, the pacing and plotting was incredibly successful for the type of book it is. It's a book I will go back to again and again just for the sheer pleasure of a fly-over romance.