The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Number of pages: 224
My copy: borrowed from Pinoy Book Tours
Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?
Imagine if she hadn’t forgotten the book. Or if there hadn’t been traffic on the expressway. Or if she hadn’t fumbled the coins for the toll. What if she’d run just that little bit faster and caught the flight she was supposed to be on. Would it have been something else – the weather over the Atlantic or a fault with the plane?
Hadley isn’t sure if she believes in destiny or fate but, on what is potentially the worst day of each of their lives, it’s the quirks of timing and chance events that mean Hadley meets Oliver…
Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.
* * *
The longest flight I have ever been in before my Europe trip was when I went to Saipan to visit my dad, and it was only a four hour flight. On the way home, I had already watched an in flight movie, read a little and we were still about an hour away from Manila. My brother and I were so restless that when we finally saw the Manila city lights, we were so excited that we almost started jumping up and down in our seats. I couldn’t imagine how I could manage a flight longer than that until I flew to Europe last August. My flight from Manila to Europe was almost 16 hours long, with a stopover at Amsterdam to switch planes to get to Madrid. The Manila to Amsterdam was a killer with almost 12 hours of being up in the air. You can see how antsy that entire flight made me. I managed to watched four movies, read a lot and slept a lot, and still, the flight is not yet over. It almost drove me nuts, if I wasn’t so excited to get to Europe.
I guess I would have been less antsy if I was seated with my friends on the flight, but as luck would have it, I was given another seat a few rows back from them1. I shared a row with a guy that I did not end up talking to at all, save for the occasional “Excuse me” when I had to squeeze in to get to the rest room.
I remembered that particular time while I was reading The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith that I borrowed from Pinoy Book Tours. They say people who meet at airports and share flights together have higher chances of falling in love with each other. I don’t really know why — maybe it’s because of the enclosed space, the length of the flight, the novelty of meeting someone new in a sea of people who is also heading your way. Perhaps it’s the idea that meeting the love of your life on the plane is a cute story to share in the future. I don’t know really, except that that obviously did not happen to me. ;) Jennifer E. Smith explores this idea in her debut novel with Hadley who missed her flight to London to attend her father’s wedding (sans the plus size wedding gowns). As she waits for her next flight anxiously, she meets Oliver, who is also heading to London and who becomes her seatmate. Hadley and Oliver had no idea that the missed flight, this chance encounter and the next twenty four hours will change their lives.
This novel is both cute and sad in a lot of ways, and I was really surprised with the sadness aspect that it had. I was really expecting it to be just cute because of the premise, but I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the issues that Hadley and Oliver had. Hadley was angry at her dad for leaving them without any notice, for breaking their family and for having the nerve to invite her to the wedding. Oliver’s own issues somewhat mirrored Hadley’s, but being a guy, he wasn’t one to share about it. The two main characters share an easy friendship at first, going through a typical getting to know phase albeit a bit condensed. They never felt too old for their age, even if their concerns were a little more serious than the normal teen had. Their conversations were witty and full of poignant things, and it’s actually also the kind of conversation that I would like to have if I meet someone at the airport and end up sitting next to them in the next, oh, twelve hours.
I liked the author’s writing here: simple but still filled with meaning and never really going into cliche territory. Some quotes I really liked:
In the end, it’s not the changes that will break your heart; it’s that tug of familiarity. (p.19)
Oliver’s cheeks redden, and the smile she catches as he ducks his head is maddeningly cryptic; it is, Hadley decides, a smile with two meanings. The bigger part of her worries that it must be charitable, designed to make her feel less awkward about both the question and the coming answer, but something else keeps her wondering all the same: maybe — just maybe — it’s something even kinder than that, something full of understanding, a seal on the unspoken agreement between them that something is happening here, that this just might be a kind of beginning. (p. 73)
But Hadley understood. It wasn’t that she was meant to read them all. Maybe one day she would, but for now, it was more the gesture itself. He was giving her the most important thing he could, the only way he knew how. He was a lover of stories, and he was building her a library in the same way other men might build their daughters houses. (p. 139-140)
I finished reading this book in a day and it did leave me with a silly smile on my face, wondering about the possibilities of where Oliver and Hadley’s relationship was heading after that. Of course, the realist in me started asking, “So what happens next? Do you think they’re really in love? What happens when they go back? Will they be able to sustain whatever they built in the span of twenty four hours — which isn’t really enough time to fall in love and you know that.”
I know, I know, how pessimistic. But don’t worry, I managed to shut that side of me for a while if only to enjoy the happy and satisfied feeling of this book left me. Even if I don’t really believe in love at first sight. :P
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith will be out by January 2, 2012. Thanks to Pinoy Book Tours for the ARC!
Oh wait, one more! Reading this book reminded me of this article, Strangers on a bus by Froila Marie Deniega. Now this is my kind of chance encounter. ;)
- And it happened with almost all my flights in Europe. What is up with that? [↩]