Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, which takes place over a 24-hour period, is just delightful. Hadley is on her way to her father’s wedding in London when she misses her flight. While in the airport trying to stave off panic, she meets Oliver who is returning home on the flight she’s just been bumped to. To say they hit it off is an understatement, though it’s not hot and heavy. Rather, it’s an emotional connection–which I appreciate in a YA novel. They while away the time on the flight getting to know one another, only to go their separate ways when they reach their destination.
It’s a very smart book, filled with references to Dickens and others, and it ponders the unpredictability of love. It’s not a science, and it can’t be quantified. It’s a feeling that defies much reasoning. It ends predictably, though that does not diminish the journey, which is emotional and tender. Hadley is a fragile character with bursts of strength; she’s learning to find her place in the world and to seize opportunities as they come. She must come to terms with her father starting a new family, trying to figure out where she fits in the new scheme of things. Oliver is funny and strong–a good counterpoint to Hadley, though I don’t think I’d want a story from his perspective, for some reason. The two of them work well together, with a solid rapport and obvious chemistry–but is it that simple? This is a question that the book grapples with: can you just see someone and fall in love? I wouldn’t say that there’s a definitive answer to it here, because we all know that it’s more than the first few seconds. However, without a spark there can be no fire.
I enjoyed this thoroughly, and I recommend it as a quick read that hits a nice emotional note with quite a few moments of levity and a whole mess of Dickens.