The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
"Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?The subject: a chance meeting at an airport, which turns into something more. The cuteness of Hadley and Oliver's interactions will make you smile, but prepare yourself for a good dose of wish fulfillment. Oliver seems a lot like he's constructed to be the dream guy for female contemporary YA readers, right down to the crooked smile. The story unfolds a lot like a fluffy rom-com movie would, complete with (somewhat contrived) meet-cute and misunderstanding.
Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that 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 in seat 18C. Hadley's in 18A.
Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it." (from Goodreads)
The setting: the first little bit is set in the airport, the next is set on the plane, and then a good chunk of it is set in London. There's a real truth in how their interactions on the airplane are depicted. I completely agree about flights breaking down inhibitions between strangers; it can feel as though you're in a different world when you're so far above the ground.
Shutter speed: rather slow. It all takes place in the span of 24 hours (a good part of the book's hook, really) and so it moves quite sluggishly. There are a lot of flashbacks padding the real-time plot and unfortunately killing the momentum without adding that much.
What's in the background? Family issues for both Hadley and Oliver. I have the feeling these were at least partly introduced in an effort to give a bit more "depth" to the characters and the storyline. The attempt is somewhat more successful in Oliver's case — his strained relationship with his father entices the reader to want to know more — than Hadley's, whose anger over her parents' divorce and her father's remarriage feels pretty generic and cliché.
Zoom in on: England! Seriously, it's set in London so why not showcase the British atmosphere more? A dollop of British culture would definitely help the story come to life. (Admittedly, Hadley does spend less than 24 hours there, but still.)
Anything out of focus? The writing style of 3rd-person present tense was very unusual. I don't know that I've read a book in that combination of POV and tense, and it was rather distracting. Maybe this is just me?
Also, I wish there'd been at least one character who remained unapologetically reprehensible in some way. They all end up being nice, "good guys," and there's no one with a really strong personality. Overall it ends up feeling too happily-ever-after, with not enough substance to keep it from being a rosy version of reality.
Ready? Say... "Awwww..."
Click! 3 shooting stars. This book is cute, yeah, but not really much more than cute. Still, Smith has a way of capturing life's small moments or reflections in a relatable way that makes you go, "Yes, that's exactly what it feels like" or "I completely understand what she means here." Overall, though, it just feels a bit bland...it needs something extra to push it to another level and make it shine.
Disclaimer: I received this book for review from the publisher.
This book counts towards my goal for the Just Contemporary reading challenge