Do you believe in fate? Destiny? Love at first sight? For some hopeless romantics out there, these lofty concepts make the endless quest for a “perfect” romance totally worth it. Others among us are probably disillusioned with the hackneyed ways these ideas are talked about. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith puts a fresh spotlight on destiny, changing the way we think about chance encounters. Even the title pokes fun of itself. We can reasonably expect that this book is going to be a feel-good young adult romance novel. But can it possibly be the one we’re used to, when we’re already trying to put a mathematical measurement on abstract emotions?
I have been on a lot of long international flights in my years, and let me tell you. I consider myself lucky if the person I’m sitting next to is healthy, quiet, and leaves me alone. The best seatmate I have ever had is nothing more than a completely average, unremarkable seat-filler.
You know who my seatmate has never been? It’s never been Oliver, a gorgeous Ivy-league educated British guy who wants to chat me up and carry my luggage. This story takes place on the day Hadley, an American girl traveling to London for her father’s second wedding, meets Oliver, traveling home for an event of his own.
What relevance does a couple of minutes have? How about a few hours? A day? This is the span of time in which Hadley and Oliver meet and form a meaningful connection. Hadley misses her scheduled flight by a mere 4 minutes and gets a new flight — one she would share with Oliver.
Trapped (for hours!) at the airport and then in the sky, the pair hit it off and form a really special bond. Their conversations aren’t in-your-face. This isn’t just the story of the hot guy who sits next to the hot girl and (of course!) they just happen to fall in love. They talk about their parents in a way they never have before, showing how sometimes it’s inexplicably much easier to open up to strangers.
Their story is makes for more than a young adult romance novel. Actually, despite having love in the title, it’s not even a major plot point. It’s about forming relationships — an important skill that is paralleled directly with Hadley’s fragile relationship with her father. If she can construct a relationship with a strange boy within the span of a day, surely she can mend the strains distance and divorce have put on her father-daughter bond.
This novel takes place within the span of 24 hours, but it feels so much longer than that. It’s not to say that the book drags on — well paced and full of surprising twists and turns, this book makes you feel as though you’ve known the characters forever. They feel natural and likable, and well, real. I love the way these characters quickly infiltrated my heart and kept me captivated. I cared about their stories and wanted to know how this fated encounter would affect the future.
I’m considering this one a must-read, whether you’re into young adult fiction or not. It’s certainly not the mindless escape novel I usually expect from young adult reads. The statistical probability that you’ll fall in love with this book from the first sentence is 97%.
If you’re interested, you can pick it up here.