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Book Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight


I confess. I picked the book only for the intriguing title, and as it was long since I read a teen romance, I was fully geared up to read the e-book.

In fact, again I read this book from below my bed covers after midnight. Aah, don't worry it is yet another short book so I wasn't straining much, you overprotective souls out there. Oh never mind that I was watching TV till midnight and then went on to complete this book. Not the entire book some 50% of it, the previous part I.was reading during my to and fro journey in train. Quite out of context, I am almost sure that my co passengers would have been thinking I was out of my mind while I was grinning while reading few passages from this book. And right now when I am writing no.. texting.. er no.. swyping the review in my mobile they are actually thinking that I am messaging 'someone'. I can practically hear the voices in their minds and I know that stare. Mission accomplished - given some spicy food for their thoughts. Back to the review, now.
Book: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Author: Jennifer E Smith
Genre: Fiction - Romance - YA
Main Characters: Hadley Sullivan, Oliver, The Professor / Dad / Mr. Sullivan, Charlotte, Violet (Charlotte's friend.)
Claustrophobic Hadley is flying to England to attend her dad's wedding to a woman she has never met. She arrives at the airport disinterested, only to miss the flight by four minutes. She now has to fly on the next flight - three hours later, to reach the wedding just at the nick of the time. At the airport she meets Oliver, a tall messy haired boy who helps her with her luggage and provides company throughout the journey. There happens the inevitable - love at first sight! When they arrive at London, she couldn't wait to say good bye to him and rushes to the wedding. The wedding of her dad to a woman, Charlotte - whom she is prepared to hate, who literally pushes Hadley to accept to become her bridesmaid, who is really sweet, beautiful and really wants to let Hadley to be a part of her future too and whose friends Hadley wanted to ridicule about and loathe are actually sweet - especially one Ms. Violet. But Hadley's mind runs towards flashbacks from her childhood and the flight journey. After the wedding she understands through another family that Oliver might be returning to his family to attend his father's funeral and she rushes to meet him, overcoming her claustrophobia traveling in the 'tubes'. She finds and speaks to him and then to find him with his ex girlfriend. She returns broken hearted to her dad's wedding, where her dad consoles her. She and her dad make up their strained relationship. After the reception, Oliver comes to meet her and they fall in love all over again.
Actually retelling the story here I can understand what a good story this could have been, with such a good plot. Yeah I know this isn't a plausible situation, but so is love at first *gasp* I know I broke many a hearts here! Of course, this is a real interesting situation, if it happens *day dreams*. Oh, well, back to you.

One major thing that was bothering me was the logic in the dad - daughter relationship. Here is the backdrop: Her dad goes to Oxford accepting a new short term job and her mom cannot join him as she has a shop to look after. He was to be back by Christmas. But it does not happen, as her mom announces they were getting divorced, and is emotionally broken for a while. She is again back on the dating scenario, dating a dentist who is all intent to marry her which she has not accepted yet. Amidst all this, Hadley finds out during a Dad- daughter ski trip that there is another woman in his life, and she shuts him out of her life. Her resentment increases as they both decide to marry and want her to be their bridesmaid.

Okay I get the idea that she is hurt and divorce is tough, but how was this marriage all unfair only to Hadley? I mean her mom has moved on and he is genuinely happy, as she says, then what is her problem? I mean she is okay with her mom dating somebody else but not her dad? Where in the world did the notion came from that he left them for Charlotte? I dont think it was probable (at least in my mind) for the "Professor" to leave a perfectly happy family in America for months, move to England, fall in love and then announce a divorce over phone call. I mean her mom would have known and there could have been domestic issues and they decided to take a break or something, though nothing of that sort was said to Hadley (or us). But seriously, did she run away from her Dad's wedding to search and meet a boy in an unknown country in a wedding dress without much cash and with her claustrophobia? And then comes back to the wedding, decides to get absorbed in her own boy trouble and her dad plays her shrink? All for an unknown boy (pfftt.. love at first sight)? All on her Dad's Wedding day, how much ever she might hate it?

Plot was good, execution not so good. I mean I really feel anything during the story. You know that mushy mushy feeling you are supposed to get reading the romance, oh well forget it.

Did I want to know what happens next? - hmm no.

Did I hate it? - no.

Did I feel sleepy? - no.

In fact, only word I could think of is - bland. By the way, have I read any novel that is fully written in simple present? (No I have not read Hunger Game / Fifty Shades, I know they are written entirely in the present tense). I don't know exactly but I felt weird sometimes seeing words like

"Hadley edges her way toward the windows and surveys the rows of drab gray chairs, most of them occupied and the rest sprouting yellow stuffing at their seams like well-loved teddy bears. She props her backpack on top of her carry-on suitcase and digs for her cell phone, then scrolls through the contacts for her dad’s number."

"She sighs and repeats herself: “I missed my flight".

Saying that I don't want to skip quoting some lines I really liked from the book. Actually there were quite a few lines I loved rather felt attracted to, mostly because they were - simple. The most simple thing are the closest to the heart right? So here are a few:

Quotes I loved:

"In the end, it’s not the changes that will break your heart; it’s that tug of familiarity."

"It didn’t help that she was right; when had that ever made anything better? "

"The only time it doesn’t help to imagine the sky is when you’re thirty thousand feet in the air with nowhere to go but down."

"She’s spent the past few weeks secretly wishing this very thing might happen, though admittedly, her imagined scenarios have been a bit more dramatic: a massive airline strike; an epic hailstorm; an immobilizing case of the flu, or even the measles, that would prevent her from flying"

(Well, I have done this innumerable times, in fact every Monday - oh the Monday Blues! Wont there be a public transport strike? A power break down for the whole city? Or at least a small size accident - not to me, to some third person and I can run to help them - I know I know I am not the world's best person - on Monday Mornings)

"Is it better to have had a good thing and lost it, or never to have had it?"

" But the truth was, they spent so much time not talking about Mom’s absence that it had become the only thing either of them could think about."

"It’s one thing to run away when someone’s chasing you."

"There’s a star in the sky that refuses to stay put, and Hadley realizes it’s actually a plane, that just last night, that star was them."

"There’s a formula for how long it takes to get over someone, that it’s half as long as the time you’ve been together."

"Not everyone makes it fifty-two years, and if you do, it doesn’t matter that you once stood in front of all those people and said that you would."

"Is it possible not to ever know your type—not to even know you have a type—until quite suddenly you do?"

Oh did I say that I have started actually using highlights in the ebook. Would I highlight if it were a hard copy - Hell no! But again this is just an ebook. And I am totally surprised that I had highlighted sooo many lines, and reading them back again they all sound great.

Bottom-line:

First things first, that is a real cute, intriguing title. Next, as I have already said, the plot was actually good. But for even such a short book, I found it a little dragging. A YA novel with a love at first sight concept, you could actually make a lot of things happen, but nothing really happens. And best of all, even after the 300 odd pages I really did not know nor feel anything about the characters, come on at least you could have made me feel frustrated or irritated (that is actually easier). Oh and probably I was disconnected with Hadley as she was too shallow and self absorbed for me. Nor with Oliver. He was quirky and witty and that was it. So it is a cute plot with a non racy story (oh all that was happening in 24 hours, still too slow for me) and superficial character building, but a few effective and simple lines. So that is a 2 star from me, mainly for the quotable quotes.

Love,

P.S The only two quotes distantly related to the title are :

"People who meet in airports are seventy-two percent more likely to fall for each other than people who meet anywhere else"

“Did you know that people who meet at least three different times within twenty-four hour period are ninety-eight percent more likely to meet again?”

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