Friday, April 6, 2012
REVIEW: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Realistic Fiction
Audience: Teen/Young Adult
Summary: Nothing is going right for Hadley Sullivan. After a fight with her mom and a series of misadventures, she misses her flight to London—by four minutes! Even worse, her estranged father is about to marry "That British Woman" who is the reason for her parents' break-up and his defection to another country. So there she is, stranded at the airport with her ill-fitting bridesmaid dress and hours before she can catch another flight, one that will land her in London mere hours before the ceremony. Then she meets Oliver, who is on his way home to England for a family event of his own, and the two share confidences on the long transatlantic flight. It seems ridiculous to feel such a strong connection with a stranger she's known less than 24 hours, but in between meeting Oliver at the airport and coming to terms with her father’s remarriage, Hadley discovers that anything is possible.
The Statistical Probability of Love is a sweet, easy-going read with a lot going for it. It features a classic romantic premise—boy meets girl, boy charms girl with his offbeat personality, boy and girl fall in love. There are hints of the easy conversations and magical rapport that I loved so much in Amy and Rogers's Epic Detour. Over the course of the 10-hour flight from JFK to Heathrow, Hadley and Oliver trade amusing thoughts and comments, talk about their families and relationships, exchange secrets, and almost share their first kiss. And despite the short time span, the story unfolds effortlessly. In a way it reminded me of the movie Before Sunrise or David Levithan and Rachel Cohn's Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Hadley and Oliver's conversations are serious, silly, and surprisingly natural. The fact that their relationship develops in the quiet darkness of a cramped plane rather than an exploration of a city only adds to the intimacy and realism. After all, what else do they have to do but get to know each other? That is, until the plane lands and Hadley and Oliver are separated at Heathrow's customs line. The events that separate them and eventually allow them to meet up again might irritate the more cynical, but it was easy for me to ignore the niggling "Yeah, rights" and simply enjoy the story.
While the adorable relationship between Hadley and Oliver provides the impetus to the story, it is the strained family relationships—particularly between Hadley and her father—that makes this book memorable. Hadley's heartache and confusion following her parents' divorce is poignant and almost tangible at times. She loves her father but hasn't been able to come to grips with the choices he has made. No one is made out to be a villain or a victim. Instead, Smith's novel is packed with empathetic characters who are flawed and relatable. Things are wrapped up a little too neatly and some events and characters strain credibility (such as Hadley's soon-to-be stepmom), but this is a satisfying read that is sure to put a smile on the face of romantics everywhere.
The Statistical Probability of Love is one of the ARCs up for grabs in our Spring Giveaway Event!