My rating: 4/5 Stars
Publisher: Poppy/Little Brown (2012)
Length: 236 pgs
Format: Hardcover, checked out from my local library
Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
I wish I had been able to read this book in a single sitting. Set over a twenty four hour period on two continents and one long plane ride, Smith’s novel clicked along at a natural pace that had me experiencing what it was like to be in Hadley’s shoes, whether it was sitting in the airport or navigating the London Underground. Had I been able to read this relatively short text in one sitting, I would have truly felt the experience Hadley has- of meeting and bonding with a stranger through the artificial intimacy of travel and all of the significant moments that are blurred together within a single day in one’s life.
Though readers only get a short time with protagonist Hadley, Jennifer E. Smith does a wonderful job really exposing Hadley’s emotions and thoughts through a third person narrative (which is refreshing to see nowadays in YA). Hadley’s pain and conflict about her parent’s separation, divorce, and father’s remarriage were raw and tangible enough without being overdone, and though I only spent a few hours with Hadley I empathized with her situation through Smith’s quietly striking writing. Smith also uses third person present narration, which can be tricky but really gives the reader the feeling that they are with Hadley through her twenty four hour journey from New York to London, and the chapters span mere minutes rather than days, so very little narration is wasted on filler content.
Surrounding the idea of romance in this book is also a focus on relationships in general- between family, between acquaintances, and the impact minutes or hours can have on such relationships. Whether it’s an overheard comment, a sidelong glance at someone, or a missed call, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight enables readers to view relationships in a twenty four hours microcosm and see the small, daily interactions and impacts the contribute to the ever changing ebb and flow of interpersonal relationships.
Also, what I really want to state about this book: It’s not insta-love. Sure, Hadley and Oliver’s relationship is only examined over the course of one day and night, and the “probability” of finding someone who you really click with while traveling may be low, but the beauty of having the book set over a twenty four hour period is that the reader really gets to examine each interaction between the two characters in careful detail, and see how the companionship and connection blossoms. It’s really cool to read, to see the little (seemingly) mundane interactions between a protagonist and love interest that most novels skip, and after twenty four hours with Hadley and Oliver I’m more convinced by their interactions and connection than I am by many YA couples that get together after several days or weeks. Again, this is not insta-love and it’s up to the reader to really decide where their relationship goes, it’s merely watching two people find a connection over a short amount of time. And it was short, sweet, and authentic.
“…and Hadley- buzzing with a kind of anger that made her feel both entirely invincible and incredibly young-…” (italics are mine, pg 39)
“It was his fault, all of it, and yet her hatred for him was the worst kind of love, a tortured longing, a misguided wish that made her heart hammer in her chest.” (pg 65)
“It wasn’t that she was meant to read them all. Maybe someday she would, but for now, it was more the gesture itself. He was giving her the most important thing he could, the only way he knew how. He was a professor, a lover of stories, and he was building her a library in the same way other men might build their daughters houses.” (pg 153)
(Doesn’t that last quote just make your bookish heart swoon at the beautiful way books are given importance?)
It’s a quick read that won’t necessarily change your life, but Smith has a narrative voice of quiet confidence that brings the reader into the twenty-four hour journey of Hadley and Oliver thoroughly and emotionally. Read it all in one sitting if you can to get the full experience, and bask in how refreshing it is to read a budding romance that doesn’t fall into the clutches of insta-love.