Thursday, April 4, 2013

Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Rating: A cute and charming contemporary read which, while predictable, did warm the cockles of my old, cold heart. Good for fans of Anna and the French Kiss, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and Just One Day.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

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. 

The cover: I LIKE. I like the chalk writing font, letting the awesome tittle do all the heaving lifting, the pop of red against the black and white, and the way the blurred figures make the pavement look all rainy and London-y. The cute couple looking oh so Oliver and Hadley-like. Seriously, it's so rare that couples on covers actually look a thing like the characters inside the books.

The story: Despite my previously stated misgivings about insta-love, I had seriously high expectations going into this book. Nearly every review I've read has been complimentary, and sometimes there's nothing better in the world than a lovely little contemporary romance. And this book really was lovely, and a fast read to boot. I read it at precisely the right time, when my head needed to be up in the clouds with Hadley and Oliver, falling in love at first sight.

What I love about this book is that they don't actually fall in love at first sight. There were no premature declarations, namely this unspoken ithing between Hadley and Oliver that was clear as daylight. Smith didn't have to work to convince me why Oliver and Hadley would be magic together; I could see it on the page. This book had fun with the idea of what if, which is why the insta-lovey-ness worked for me. What if you did find yourself in this situation? And there were other things at play, like Hadley's serious daddy issues.

 I love that TSP played with all these ideas about what love is, what it means, what makes it true, and how long it's meant to last, when really the only thing that makes love love is... love. Also, it really makes me want to book a flight to some far off locale right now and somehow maneuver myself into sitting next to the hottest guy around, but even if I did, I bet a million bucks he'd never be as cute or flirty as Oliver. I never get put next to hot guys. I get put next to fat dudes who snore or cranky ladies who eye my copy of Cosmo like it's the devil's handbooks or children who cry. Where's my Oliver, dang it?!

Hadley does have some issues though. Her father left her mom to go live in England, fell in love with a British lady, and is getting married. Hadley is understandably not too keen with this whole arrangement, and is harboring some serious justified resentment.

Not exactly Hadley's current opinion.

 Divorce is a tricky issue. It can be a trigger for some people, either people who hate reading books that "normalize" it, or people who have suffered through it. I'm not here to tell you what to believe when it comes to divorce, but I will say that I don't think Smith trivializes love. While she does talk about the impermanence of some types of love, I think she does make a serious case for the real stuff. It's just about recognizing which loves are real, which ones can sustain even with all the hard work love requires, and which won't, no matter how hard you work at them.

For the record, my parents are divorced, though they divorced after I graduated high school. While Hadley's situation didn't really relate to mine in any way, Smith wrote her emotions so deeply and beautifully that I felt like they did. I'm not ashamed to admit I shed a tear or two during the latter half of this novel, though I'm just going to pretend it was because it was early in the morning and I was punchy and there was a branch in my eye or something. Anyway, there were bittersweet moments and straight up sweet moments, too.

I liked Hadley.She's so... real, if a fictional character can be real. She's so open about her feelings and memories, even though the distance of third person narration, that I really got to step into her shoes. Smith has an amazing ability with creating the perfect little flashbacks and textural moments to fill in the details of Hadley's family life. I got a sense of her past with only a few anecdotes. Not a lot of writers can do that. This means you suffer through that ghastly, draining, graying feeling of watching her family come apart and her past get redefined and her future turn into a mess of uncertainties, but you also get to experience the fluttery moments of squee that constitute her dealing with the delightful Oliver.

OLIVER. Smith did such a good job with him. He needed to be immediately likeable and charming to carry off behind a love-at-first sight love interest. But the best part about Oliver was that he got better at second and third and fourth sight. I love his made up facts and sense of humor and British-ness.

I picture all Brits as aggressive tea-drinkers.

 He was, in a word, adorable, and contained a surprising amount of depth. This wasn't really insta-love. Insta-attraction, maybe, but they really did bond, and there was no pledge of everlasting love within moments of their meeting. Heck, I was half in love with Oliver only ten pages after meeting him. By the time they land in London, I was utterly smitten. I wish the plane ride has been longer, actually, and that Smith had included more of it.

The few drawbacks to this otherwise adorable little book was the predictability of the storyline with Hadley's dad and stepmother-to-be. I always like more conflict, and I felt the resolution there was a little too sugary sweet, bordering on cliche. I also kind of wanted Hadley to stick it to her father and truly show him how much he's wounded her, but I'm far less mature than Hadley was by the end of the book, which is why fate always sits me next to the snoring arm-rest usurpers and motion-sick ladies.

The writing is easy, smooth, and at moments almost awesomely profound. I actually stopped to pull aside a couple quotes here and there. They're the kind of quotes you can just see teen girls pinning on Pinterest or reblogging on Tumblr. Poetic, sweet, and surprisingly deep, kind of like this book.


  1. Thanks for your honest review! I kept debating about reading this one but I just wasn't sure. It sounds like the perfect read when I'm in the mood for a cute romance. I will have to read it now.

    1. This won't appeal to everyone, but those who enjoy this type of story will fall totally in love.

  2. I have this one on my Kindle and I've been needing to read it, but I also have books that I have to read to get to first. But I'll say that your review made me wanna just go ahead and read this one NOW!

    1. I was in a tiny bit of a reading rut, and this was sitting there on my Kindle also, and I was like "You know what? This won't challenge my brain. It will probably improve my mood. LET'S DO THIS." And I'm glad I did!

  3. As soon as my book ban is over I am buying this book. I read a few pages while I was at the bookstore and decided to put it in my TBR. For me this book will be taking me out of my comfort zone since I don't care for contempory books. Great review.

  4. Glad this worked even better for you than for me. I guess I'm just to misery to accept the instalove, even here. Though I did love their connection, they seemed a bit too serious too fast. Actually, my biggest issue was her plot arc with her dad, which I thought was also way accelerated. She reached acceptance too quickly, as though having a hot British boy made everything else okay.

  5. I'm really glad that you enjoyed this one. It was good - I'll admit that. I just had a hard time falling in love with it like others. And oh my goodness, the instalove. Probably my favorite part of the book because it wasn't "instalove" it was something else. (does that make sense)

  6. I absolutely adore Jennifer's writing. She's got quite the way with words, and I love that you were able to stress how she talks about love in this one. So glad that you ended up enjoying this one! It's one of my favorites :)

  7. I read this book a while ago and loved it. I thought your review was spot on (I, too, wanted Hadley to stick it to her dad but then I'm more vindictive than she obviously was).
    On a funny side note: when my friends and I were flying to Scotland for a vacation last January, my friend Ally and I actually couldn't book seats next to each other on the flight from Dallas to Heathrow. I ended up in a window seat while poor Ally was stuck in the middle. And who should sit down next to me in the aisle seat but a very cute guy (which immediately made me nervous because I wasn't exactly dressed well considering I was planning to sleep for most of the flight). But then no one was sitting in the two seats next to Ally (and she was on the aisle) so she told me I could come sit with her and then we'd have more room what with the empty seat next to us and wouldn't have to climb over strangers to get to the bathroom. I warred with myself for a while, hoping that maybe this guy would be my own version of Oliver (though he was American and not British) but eventually decided to be a good friend and go sit with Ally (she's a nervous flyer). So yeah, no sweet romance for me. Nertz.
    But maybe that saved me from awkwardly not talking to the cute guy next to me (which is what I usually do)...or even worse, awkwardly talking to him and boring him to tears for the whole flight.


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