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Monday, July 23, 2012

Mini-Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight 
by Jennifer E. Smith
Contemporary, 236 pages
January 2nd 2012 by Poppy/Little Brown
"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.

Alright, as I warned you yesterday, I have some catching up to do.  And if Twitter and Tumblr and Pinterest would just leave me alone for five minutes*, I could do it...
Um. Yeah...  So I'm going to kick off the catch-up with a VERY belated mini-review of The Statistical Probability of the World's Longest Title of Love at First Sight, which I read in February and really should have talked about by now. Well, wrote about, I guess, because I actually did already talk about it.

Anyway, I've mentioned a time or twelve that I'm a bit, eh, how shall we say?...blackhearted. Though I enjoy romance in books, I really seem to need some strife in it. It can't be instant, it can't be all-consuming (unless it's sort of in a creepy way, then I'm cool), and it can't be sugary contemporary. I just - I don't have that gene. Sentimentality and sweetness are wasted on me.

So I'm always really hesitant to try any kind of contemporary YA romance. It usually only succeeds in reaffirming my cold-heartedness. But every now and then, one appeals to me for some reason, and TSPOLAFS (even the acronym is ridiculously long. Jeez.) was one of those that DID inexplicably appeal to me.
And my instincts were good. Here's why:

Smith dealt with emotion really well. Not just romance, but with the issues Hadley and Oliver were working through, and how all of that would play into their flirtation/romance with each other. The attraction had a real basis and a recognizing of a sameness with each other, of some sort of kinship. They flirted with each other and got each other through something really stressful, and the romance that developed was not grounded wholly in flirtation. They were companionable, and that made it work and seem like something more - something stable and lasting - could come of it, which is usually my problem with these types of books (and the idea of love at first sight). You really can't get more insta-lovey than this, than meeting in an airport and being pretty damn head over heels by the time you land, and yet it wasn't insta-lovey. The timeframe is instant, but the horrible hallmarks of insta-love weren't there.  This didn't just feel like lust-at-first-sight; it didn't feel precarious and fleeting; they were building a solid foundation at the same time as they built the castle walls and spires**. It just worked. And above all, it managed to be believable.

Beyond all that, it just worked as a story. It flowed and had some real heart to it, and a good dose of relatable family drama and real-life stuff. The flirtation was adorable and butterfly-making, and the characters were engaging and worked well together. And it was very, very charming.  And now, as I sat down to write this, and began writing up my notes all these months later, flashes of the story came back to me, and a sudden longing to read it again. This is not something you'l hear from me too often when it comes to contemporary. But I found myself wanting their sweetness and their turmoil, their highs and their lows, and above all, their hope. And really wanting to reread the post-wedding garden scene. That perfect bittersweetness.

And I'll leave you with my original 1-line review upon finishing the book: Well, that just warmed the cockles of my little blackened heart...Whatever the hell cockles are...

*Because it's them; it's totally them... 
**Why castle walls and spires? Because it is dreamy romance, after all... Just go with it.


  1. Awesome review! I'm the same way with contemporary stories. I get bored. And I LOVE your one liner. ;)

  2. I totally agree! Although I do like an occasional light hearted romance, I was surprised at how believable the author made this. Great review! BTW I am so impressed you can write such a thoughtful review months later!

  3. I try to keep notes on books I read (doesn't always happen, though), and I also do mini-reviews of each book in my monthly wrap-ups, so that makes it easier. Sometimes it IS hard, and I struggle to remember exactly what it was I wanted to talk about, and what I wanted to point out.
    But I know myself, and I know just how long I can procrastinate, so I try to make it at least a LITTLE easier on myself.

  4. You said a lot about yourself in this review, which is just so great. You not only have got a good head on your shoulders, but you have a solid understanding of what makes a romance work.

    And when someone wants to read a book again, simply for the pleasure of it, that's saying a lot.

    Thanks for this review, Misty. I'm interested in reading this, thanks to you.

  5. I hope you do, Laura, it's a really enjoyable read.

    And yes, I do on occasion go all introspective...As I said, I have mentioned a time or two how "cold-hearted" I am, but really, it's just that I don't - and never have - believed in love at first sight. Lust, yes. The potential for love, sure. But I was the weird, practical kid in class reading Romeo and Juliet and saying "They're KIDS. They JUST MET. Pfft!"

  6. See, that's the hard part about writing a sparkling "light" romance novel---it has to resonate on all levels. Sure, it's fantasy. But it has to be believable fantasy. Sweep-me-away romance, yes, but also honest about how life works.

    Lust-driven novels just don't cut it with intelligent readers. Oh, we'll finish them, just to see what happens (or not). But how can we check our brains at the door? We know too much about men! ---about people! ---to be buying the story-line. Forget taking these books to our hearts, we won't even read them a second time!

    I wonder if basic honesty is why Jane Austen's novels maintain their appeal?

    I'll be joining you for the group read of Persuasion (that's how I learned about your blog). Such an excellent choice!

  7. "Sweep-me-away romance, yes, but also honest about how life works."

    YES. This.
    I think, too, that it matters what you label it. It's fine to have it be a lust-fest if you're upfront that that's what it is. It's fine to have it be a fleeting, butteryly-making flirtation if THAT'S what it's supposed to be. But if you make it mindless lust and call it love, or have two characters meet and lay none of the groundwork, show no commonality, no real compatibility, and call it love, you're going to have some angry, cheated readers crying "INSTA-LOVE, GAHHHH!!"

    And yes, I think that is a HUGE part of why people love Austen - still, to this day. Her romances - scratch that, her HUMAN INTERACTIONS, ROMANCE OR NOT are all very natural and honest, and so we relate. And then THEY can fall in love because WE can. We know the characters, so we're ready.


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