Title: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Publication Date: 2012
Why I Read It
I stumbled across reviews of this book frequently this spring and was intrigued by the title and cover art. So, I added it to my To Read list. And to meet one of my requirements for my 14 Books 4 Months 1 Challenge list. This was worth 20 points and is set in a place I have never been, but have wanted to visit–London. 🙂
Short Synopsis (no spoilers)
Hadley’s headed to a wedding in London. Oliver’s headed to London as well. Hadley misses her original flight. Hadley and Oliver meet at JFK airport and spend hours together on the flight across the Atlantic. Is it love at first sight? How can Hadley possibly believe in such a thing when she is headed to her father’s second wedding?
What I Liked
Reading the first few chapters, I was pulled into Hadley’s story. Smith uses flashback memories and the present surrounding to ground the protagonist in her muddled feelings about her father’s soon-to-be new life. Smith uses metaphors to stress the theme/lesson of certain chapters. For instance, the flight itself compared to Hadley’s inner feelings of claustrophobia (physically and mentally). As I followed Hadley and Oliver’s conversation on the plan, it kept reminding me of different conversations I have had with those I was sure I was in love with and it made me wonder, when do we open ourselves up to the point of sharing those private thoughts of our lives?
One of Hadley’s struggles and the overriding theme deals with beginnings and endings and how, in life, we know everything begins and ends, yet are often still surprised when it happens. It’s something to ponder. We go to school for years at a time, knowing each school has an end, and often working hard to meet that end. Yet, the day for the end-like graduation-arrives, and we are surprised by the mixed emotions felt. We know our children will one day leave us, yet we never seem fully prepared for this end, which is a new beginning for them and us. Hadley struggles with this idea throughout the story and spends much of the story trying to come to terms with the feelings associated with these beginnings and endings.
Oliver is headed to London and it becomes apparent early on in the story we don’t know exactly what he is headed home for and when Hadley finally figures it out, she does what most of us women do, shoulders the guilt for dumping her “troubles” on him, when he had it worse than she did. While some might suggest a predictable storyline, Smith tells it uniquely enough to keep the reader engaged and waiting for the next turn of the corner. Because both Hadley and Oliver are looking for something in each other. Do they find it? Read it!
Just a few other things I loved:
- It’s not the sappy teen love story some YA novels fall into being!
- There is no love triangle 😉
- The use of Dickens and other literature as a motif
In the end, it’s not the changes that will break your heart; it’s that tug of familiarity. (pg 20)
…just dark bleeding into light… (pg 81)
“No one is useless in this world,” it reads, “who lightens the burden of it for anyone else.” (pg. 159)
- There were quite a few instances where I thought to myself–this could be used to teach writing. Smith uses such variety in her sentences and word choice it would be easy to use bits and pieces to teach students style and voice.
What I Didn’t Like
The storyline IS predictable, to an extent. But, there is enough to keep the reader going. I also felt like the author could have involved a few of the characters a bit more, to make their personalities more apparent and believable. It is easy to want to side with Hadley and dislike the soon-to-be stepmother from the very beginning, simply for her new role in Hadley’s life. But, for a few statements about the stepmother trying to engage Hadley, there is little else from which to form an opinion or thought of her.
- Anyone who enjoys a quick read.
- Anyone who enjoys a quirky teen love story–not sappy in the least!
- Anyone who wants to ponder a few of life’s great questions: “Is it better to have had a good thing and lost it, or never to have had it?” (pg 62)