Saturday, January 12, 2013
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
After seeing this book pop up on some the best of 2012 lists for bloggers, I was very glad I had picked it up at the library. I thought it would be a great fluffy read for the end of the year (and in fact I did finish it on New Year's Eve). However, I would not classify this as a light novel by any means and it kind of left me an emotional mess (compounded by my own hormones).
The title is what captured my interest at first. Anything referencing love at first sight suggests an optimism to me while statistics was a beloved math class to me in addition to adding some quirky seriousness to the topic. I also really like the black and white cover with the red accents-it's a great cover and I'm not thrilled that the paperback is changing. But let's move on to the contents of the book itself.
Hadley is on her way to London, to serve as a bridesmaid at her father's wedding to the woman he left her mother for after a semester teaching at Oxford. She is less than thrilled to be visiting him, having mostly avoided him during her parents' separation and divorce. Thus she procrastinates and ends up missing the flight by four minutes but getting a seat on the next one. In the meantime, she meets the charming British Oliver and they end up hanging out and sitting together on the plane as Hadley reveals all her feelings. Once landed, she races to the wedding while Oliver goes to his event but that's not the end of the story by any means.
OK-let's start with what I liked (beyond the cover as I have already gushed a bit about that). I thought it was really interesting that the story is told in third-person present-tense although it was jarring at first, just because I'm so used to first-person. I also always appreciate a standalone. Oliver is much less of a focus than Hadley but as I have a weakness for cute British boys, I found him a perfectly acceptable love interest. Hadley's father is a literature professor and books have been a connection between them; got to love with book characters love books as much as the people reading them do.
On to the emotional side: Hadley's father went off to Oxford for a semester but then he meets this new woman, cheats on his wife, and moves toward a divorce and remarriage. I'm not sure why this struck such a chord with me as my parents are happily married but I guess it's because the idea of them getting a divorce leaves me devastated and so I could easily put myself in Hadley's shoes and at least some of the emotions she was feeling. Additionally I railed with her, wondering about what happened to commitment and honoring your vows, you know-"Til death do us part" not "Til I want something else and you are an impediment." Although Hadley works through this (awfully fast to my mind), she also has the happy times with her father to remember while I have none of that. Then we add in Oliver's reason for flying, which I'm not going to share as it would be a spoiler; suffice it to say, it was nothing to rejoice about. I finished this book, close to tears and just very unhappy, the exact opposite feeling I expected to get from this book. Even now, a day later as I write this, I'm feeling sad again.
Overall: This book can elicit some powerful emotions. For many people, those feelings were positive and left them ranking this book as among their favorites of the year. For me, it was the opposite and left me a mess although I do commend Smith for writing such an intense read in under 250 pages.
Good Books and Good Wine
Jen Ryland/YA Romantics