The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

The Statistical Probability of Love at First SightThe Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Headline
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 them ((And it happened with almost all my flights in Europe. What is up with that?)). 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. ;)

Rating: [rating=4]

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The Future of Us

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Publisher: Razorbill
Number of pages: 309
My copy: paperback, borrowed, from Pinoy Book Tours

It’s 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet.

Emma just got her first computer and an America Online CD-ROM.

Josh is her best friend. They power up and log on–and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future.

Everybody wonders what their Destiny will be. Josh and Emma are about to find out.

* * *

I’ve never read a Jay Asher or a Carolyn Mackler book, but The Future of Us popped into my radar soon after I heard people getting copies of it during BEA. I was intrigued by the premise, and I like reading books that include social media in its story. So when I heard that this was going to be a part of Pinoy Book Tours, I thought, why not sign up?

The Future of Us is set in 1996, back in the time where gps tracking for trucks were a rare thing. Our two main characters, Josh and Emma, are juniors in high school. Emma just got a computer, and Josh gives her an AOL CD that has free hours that she could use. Emma signs up for an email account, and when she logs in, she is surprised to find herself looking at something called “Facebook”. They discover their profiles 15 years into the future. Confused, Josh and Emma find themselves digging more information, and realizing that the little actions they do today could ripple into their future.

Don’t you just love the 90’s? I was born in the late 80’s so I barely had memories of that decade, so I am really a 90’s kid. loved that this book brought us back to that time period. I love the pop culture references then, and how not everyone have cellphones, how they listens to Green Day and Dave Matthews and Wayne’s World was the funniest movie. I love that connecting to the Internet required them to dial up, and how they had to disconnect when someone needs to use the phone — those were the days! I had to take a while to get adjusted to the time frame (in 1996, I was in 4th grade!), but once I did, it was easy to read. The 90’s is the time of my generation, so going back in time is a fun trip indeed.

Josh and Emma are pretty good characters too. I assume that Josh was written by Jay Asher and Emma was written by Carolyn Mackler? Their voices were pretty distinct, and I thought Josh was kind of adorable, if not a little trying hard. Emma was a bit harder to get into as she seemed like a very popular girl, but I liked how her character grows as the story progressed, especially when she said this:

I’ve always protected myself when it comes to love. And maybe that’s the problem. By not letting myself get hurt now, it ripples into much bigger pain later.

The Future of Us is a creative, yet somehow straightforward way of showing how even our smallest actions could ripple into the future. It’s creative, because it showed a bit of the “time machine” aspect, but again, straightforward because you pretty much get it early on in the story that Josh and Emma can do things to change their future and see it immediately on Facebook. That actually leaves little room for imagination, except maybe with wondering what could possibly happen if Emma decides to spill water on her carpet. That being said, however, I think the story still gives a pretty valuable lesson on how our actions now would affect not only our future but everyone else around us, and how we should live our real lives instead of living it online. The ending, although kind of expected, was very sweet and I found myself with a silly smile at one of the tender moments there. :)

This is a sweet and creative book that would surely tickle the fancy of contemporary fans and those from my generation. :) The Future of Us comes out on November 21.

Rating: [rating=3]

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