Contemporary Realistic Fiction · Review · Young Adult

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

The Statistical Probability of Love at First SightPublisher: Poppy/Little, Brown and Company
Pub. Date: 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA, Romance
Pages: 236
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan missed her flight by minutes. She reluctantly has to reschedule the flight because this excuse would not be good enough to skip her father’s wedding. On her new flight, she meets a British boy named Oliver. Through the air suspended in time, they talk and fall for each other. Then they’re in the airport and lose each other in the chaos. Will they meet again? How will Hadley get through the dreaded wedding? Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight crafts a love story wrapped in the unresolved issues between a teenage girl and the man who left her and her mother for another woman.

I thought this would be hilarious to read while I was taking a statistics class, knowing that it has little to do with statistics. It was a great read more for the issues with remarriage than the romance. The book was a sweet, light read.

To start with first impressions, the cover is beautiful. Black-and-white photography of the two lovebirds kissing in an airport works. The smokey impressions of people show that nothing seems to matter because the characters are so into each other. The typography for the title and the author’s name is beautiful and works with the photo, but the typography tells me nothing about the content of the book. I see that Smith’s other books follow the same cover style, but the typography is misleading.

As the title indicates, there is love at first sight. The love at first sight between Hadley and Oliver developed at a believable pace. That sounds impossible. They meet at the airport, but they aren’t all over each other and saying “I love you” immediately. They fell in love with each other quickly but not that quickly. The romance on the plane fell flat at some junctures, and most of those happened when Hadley reverted to thinking about her father and when she and Oliver paused in their interactions with each other. Shifting between present and Hadley’s thoughts was a little abrupt. I had to put the book down for a few hours at those moments because of that. Once they got off the plane, the romance stayed even.

Hadley has to come to terms with her father moving on with his life and marrying another woman. I have not seen these family issues in most of the books I’ve read. I liked seeing Hadley ponder her relationship with her father throughout the journey. Her thoughts, presenting her life story non-chronologically, build the tension and establish years of love and betrayal that her father caused. I empathized with Hadley, and it was satisfying. It was refreshing to see her focus her hurt on her father instead of taking her frustrations out on her stepmother. One topic that I did not see was a discussion about which parent Hadley would live with since they lived an ocean apart, and I think that was missed in building up her hurt over her parents’ divorce. One scene comes close, but it brushes over the topic.

I see clearly how the Charles Dickens quote at the beginning is relevant to the work as a whole. I have not payed as much attention to such quotations as I should with books I read in the past, but the quotation was used cleverly and represents the book well. I know I missed more connections because I haven’t read Our Mutual Friend. Then again, Smith might not have related much further to Dickens’ novel than the few quotations she sprinkled throughout her novel. I cannot assess Smith’s book further on this.

Later in the book, I sobbed. I haven’t cried that much over a book in a long time. I think I empathized with Hadley too much, and that is not much of a spoiler. Smith wrote that well enough to evoke that reaction from me.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight tells the tale of love at first sight in a realistic fashion and the tale of a teen girl daughter coming to terms with changing family dynamics. I recommend this to romantics and young adult readers who like to read books about blended families.

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