The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Jennifer E. Smith
Headline Publishing Group (London: 2012)
3 out of 5 stars
Recommended for girls aged 13-20
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight follows seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan over twenty-four hours, beginning with Hadley missing her flight to London by literally four minutes. Although this means she’ll be getting to her father’s second wedding with only a few minutes to spare, her lateness allows her to meet Oliver, a nineteen-year-old British boy who – surprise! – ends up in the seat next to her on her rescheduled flight. What follows is a ‘whirlwind romance’ between Oliver and Hadley; or, at least, what’s meant to be. Despite being marketed as a ‘sweet’ romance that will make you ‘believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it,’ most of the book is devoted to Hadley’s broken relationship with her father. Unfortunately, with only twenty-four hours (which bizarrely equates to eighteen – not twenty-four – short chapters), Smith unsuccessfully juggles Hadley’s rocky familial relationships, her blossoming relationship with Oliver, and Oliver’s own personal struggles. Consequently, no single scene has any particular significance, and everything gets resolved all too neatly.
I was first attracted to this book by its design; the title is quirky and original, and the cover is very appealing. However, there is a discrepancy between how Hadley appears on the cover and how she is in the actual novel. As there is no thorough description of Hadley (apart from a mention of her generic ‘blond hair and big eyes’) the reader imagines her as she appears on the cover, which is fine … until Smith writes about Oliver putting his hand on Hadley’s ‘bare leg.’ Having Hadley wear a miniskirt rather than the boyish jeans seen on the cover completely changes the reader’s perception of her, so it would’ve helped to have had a proper description from the very beginning.
The writing is generally clear and straightforward, which makes it easy to breeze through the chapters. But it’s nothing special. At times there is tense confusion and an awkward transition between third-person objective and third-person subjective. There are few errors, except for an unforunate one in what is mean to be a touching reconciliation between Hadley and her mother. When Hadley is trying to convince her mother that she should marry Harrison, her boyfriend, and be happy, she says, ‘He love you.’ The majority of readers would probably be able to ignore this glaring typo, but personally I felt it ruined the moment, which was already failing to be as poignant as it wanted to be.
Nonetheless, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is a light, enjoyable read that will entertain you for a few hours. But I highly doubt it will ‘stay with you forever.’
– Ariel Skippen