Book Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Jennifer E. Smith’s “The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight” has elements that bring romantic comedy movies into mind: an airport meet-cute scene, a wedding, and a funeral. Its title also has the tendency to make it seem like the typical Young Adult novel with teenage characters that are usually criticized for their dialogue that sound more like things that articulate middle-aged authors would say. Indeed, “Statistical Probability” is a novel that has a lot of chance to be sappy, and it is a part of a genre that can get repetitive in its themes. This novel, however, just has the right amount of the best things of the genres that it belongs to in order to make it a satisfying read.
The novel begins with its protagonist, 17-year old Hadley, hurrying to catch a flight to London. She misses it by mere four minutes. The delay leads her into meeting a British boy named Oliver, who happens to be flying to London as well. The two share some moments in the airport before Hadley takes the next flight to her destination and ends up being seated next to Oliver. All the while, they are avoiding thinking about the respective occasions that they are going to London for.
Despite its title, the novel is not about love at first sight, nor does it even suggest that Hadley and Oliver have already fallen in love during their few hours together. Its romantic hook relies more on the sweeping feeling of unexpectedly finding connection with another person. Hadley and Oliver separate ways as they arrive at London, and the book takes its readers into an angst-filled journey that is more about Hadley’s issues with her father than the prospect of a romance with Oliver.
Hadley’s father left her and her mother for a teaching job in London. Later on, another woman came into the picture. The event that Hadley is attending in London is actually her father’s wedding. Hadley has not fully accepted this.
It seems that the trajectory of Hadley’s journey as a character is easy to see. She has a feeling of deep heartache over her father, and she has to heal from it. The way the book is written puts this emotional journey on top, which results into an insightful and beautiful thing to read.
Smith’s prose is beautiful and the whole book is filled with sentences that seem to rightly capture the fleeting bittersweet feelings that come and go from time to time. It honors Hadley’s emotions as an adolescent trying to come into terms with the fact that her parents are as flawed as any human could be. It takes its readers back to the days of one’s youth when the pain of growing up is still freshly-bandaged and in the process of being healed.
As the book near its end, Oliver makes his reappearance, and he comes in again in such a sweeping manner that it can’t be helped to root for him and Hadley. They are both still very young with so much heartache, disappointments, and moments of happiness ahead of them. Reading about their story- from their cinematic meeting to the adorably cute ending, makes one want to stay in a little bubble wondering about what, really, is the statistical probability of finding someone to connect with in an airport after just missing your flight by four minutes. “Statistical Probability” may not be appreciated by everyone, but it is a nice little book that will do no harm if read.
Vochelle Sia, a writer. She likes to read, draw, paint on her free time.
**Disclaimer: Image is not ours. Credit to their respective owners.