Friday, June 01, 2012
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Genre: YA, contemporary
Publisher: Poppy, 2012
Read for: Fun
Hadley is headed toward London for her father's wedding -- an occasion she has been dreading. Still, she really doesn't mean to miss the plane. However, when she meets an attractive boy with a British accent in the terminal, she wonders if the mistake was really that bad. He helps her through her fear of flying and talks to her through the flight, but in the end, he has his own event to face in London, and Hadley wonders if she'll get through the wedding -- and if she'll ever see him again.
There was a lot of hype around The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (henceforth referred to as SPLFS, because the title takes forever to type and will make this review impossibly lengthy if I keep it up). There were many things I liked about the story, but I had a few issues with it as well.
I did really like the plotline of Hadley's struggle to face her father and deal with the betrayal she felt as he moved to England and started a new life. I enjoyed the insights revealed to us piece by piece in tiny anecdotes as Hadley moves throughout the twenty-four hours or so of her trip to London -- the books she read with her father, the awkward trip they take together when she learns he is moving to England for good, her refusal to meet her father's bride-to-be before the actual wedding. I love the way Hadley and her father interact on the day of the wedding as well -- while he easily could have been angry with her, he is there for her, understanding the situation. There is a lot of depth to their relationship, and we are given ample insight into that depth and the complexity of their relationship after he leaves, and I really enjoyed that.
Juxtaposed with Hadley's relationship with her father is Oliver's relationship with his father. While I understand what Smith was doing with this side plot-line, it felt a little contrived to me. While readers will quickly discern the differences in the relationships (don't want to reveal in fear of spoilers), some of the similarities in Hadley and Oliver's feelings seemed a little too close, too cleverly "fated." I thought this similarity was not neat and tight but instead a sort of messy insertion into the plot. I think possibly avoiding the whole "I also have issues with my father" side note could have been avoided entirely while still keeping most of the plot the same.
Another piece of the story that was shaky for me was the writing, or to be specific, the perspective. The book is written in third person present tense, and while ultimately I think it worked fine for the story, it was definitely unique and at times jarring for me to read. I'm not necessarily saying I didn't like it, but I'm not sure I liked it either. With that said, however, I did really enjoy Smith's imagery and found myself saving many quotes from the book.
Of course, what has many people going with SPLFS is the love story. In most ways, I was satisfied with this element of the book. I've read in many reviews that despite the short time-frame of this story, it doesn't fall victim to insta-love (in which the characters take one look at each and other and are immediately bonded for life, a la Romeo and Juliet). I had my doubts about it given the short time frame, but the romance really did work. I think Hadley and Oliver's connection was legitimate and believable. I definitely was doing a bit of mental swooning, especially in the customs line scene and just outside the reception hall (don't want to give too many spoilery details, but those of you who have read the book know what I mean). My one issue with the love story aspect, and it is probably my own personal issue, is that I felt this huge sense of stress the whole time everything was building. I knew it was a book within a short time frame and I knew that it was supposedly not an insta-love book, but I kept moving from chapter to chapter (which had the times each chapter was taking place at the top) and thinking, Wait, the plane ride can't end yet! They haven't had anything happen! Or wait, the wedding already happened? What about Oliver? It wasn't stressful in a thrilling way for me -- I was just stressed about it. I realize this is a personal reaction, but it did decrease some of my enjoyment of the book.
However, overall The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is a charming read with a sweet love story and some working through of family issues. A short book, it may just be perfect for your own international flight this summer. There are flaws, but they don't stop the story from being enjoyable.
Warnings: Some language, some very slight innuendo