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Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Statistical Probability of LOVE at First Sight, written by Jennifer E Smith. Little, Brown and Company, Hachette. 2012. $19.99 ages 12 and up

"This house is about two dictionaries away from caving in," she'd say, "and you're buying duplicates?' But Hadley understood. It wasn't that she was meant to read them all. Maybe someday 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 professor, a lover of stories, and he was building her a library in the same way other men might build their daughters houses."

I read a review of  this book recently and it piqued my interest. Lo and behold, it was in my mailbox on Friday (thanks to Melanie at Hachette Book Group Canada). My plan for the weekend was to finish three books I was already reading and now I had another. The fireplace, a pot of tea, a warm quilt and a short pile of books to be finished...hmmm, does it get better than that?

Did I finish the other three? I did not. I started and finished this one. What a lovely way to begin a long, lazy weekend! It has everything a young adult reader might want in a book about  love at first sight. The characters are people you want to know. The circumstances of that 'first sight' familiar. The twenty-four hours that follow the meeting are filled with uncertainty and assurance, sadness and joy, love and hate and a feeling that love does make the world a much better place for everyone involved.

IF you believe in fate, you will not be surprised by the rash of circumstances that get Hadley Sullivan to the airport four minutes too late to catch a flight to London. She thinks it might be divine intervention as she would rather not be present at her father's wedding to Charlotte, that British woman who has stolen his heart. You will also not then be surprised when a young man comes to her aid while she awaits the next available flight.

While it may seem predictably a teen romance at the outset, and the circumstances is fraught with underlying issues that partially surface as the two share the trans-Atlantic flight. Hadley is 17, still hurting from her parents' divorce and angry with her father for moving on with no backward look at the chaos he has created. Oliver is an 18 year old Brit, attending Yale and going home to be with family. Because he is carrying formal wear Hadley assumes that he, too, is going to a wedding.

They have a connection from the outset and the seven hour flight allows for conversation, little sleep and a growing sense of attraction. They share their likes and dislikes, things they have in common and those they don't. In the rush to get through customs at Heathrow and go their separate ways, they lose sight of each other. Of course, it leaves us wondering if they will see each other again...and how?

It could be just too sweet. It is not. Instead of that, Jennifer Smith creates a lovely, tender story of falling in love, of dealing with familial heartbreak, and of beginning to look at the world with a new sense of maturity and wonder:

"And there on the street corner, it strikes her as something of a miracle that she met him at all. Imagine if she'd been on time for her flight. Or if she'd spent all those hours beside someone else, a complete stranger who, even after so many miles, remained that way. The idea that their paths might have just as easily not crossed leaves her breathless..."

Jennifer Smith loves her characters and helps us love them, too. As Hadley's heart opens to new possibilities, she is able to look back at times when she and her father found much happiness together:

"It wasn't even the story itself that she loved; she didn't understand half the words and often felt lost in the winding sentences. It was the gruff sound of her father's voice, the funny accents he did for each character, the way he let her turn the pages. Every night after dinner they would read together in the darkness of the study."

I don't think you will be surprised that Hadley and Oliver do find each other again. You will be cheering for them, too!

Now, to the other books in that pile....


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