I think I’ve found my new favourite author for summer reads. After falling head over heels in love with “This Is What Happy Looks Like”, I knew I had to read more of Jennifer E. Smith’s novels—they just fill you with hope and appreciation for the everyday magic in our lives. “The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight” caught my eye while browsing her works, both for its stellar reviews and its endearing title. Maybe I should’ve saved the book a little more, but I found myself greedily inhaling this story, and loving every single page of it.
Today should’ve been one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Not only is her dad marrying his new love of his life in London, but Hadley’s also missed her flight to the wedding—by four, short minutes. But as she’s stuck at the crowded JFK airport waiting for the next flight, Hadley meets what has to be the perfect boy. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row. A long night on the plane passes in a blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. But can fate—and the uncanny quirks of timing—intervene to bring them together once more?
One of the things that make “Statistical Probability” so enjoyable are the incredibly realistic and relatable characters that you unfailingly identify with. Hadley’s an undeniable normal girl with a fairly normal life and issues that a lot of teenagers can relate to. She lives with her newly single mom, and struggles with her feelings of hurt and betrayal, and of love, toward her dad. She has her shortcomings like every human being, like not having a filter when she gets angry, and, overall, is not a perfect person. I mean, who’s ever heard of a perfect person? And that’s what makes Ms. Smith’s books so compelling—the sheer believability of her characters, despite the otherworldly tinge in their everyday happenings. The same can be said about Oliver, whose character gains more and more depth as the story progresses. Sure, he may seem like an easygoing, charming British guy, but Hadley and the readers find that there’s definitely more to him than meets the eye, making him a truly three-dimensional, engaging character that you can’t help but fall for.
Plot-wise, I felt like “Statistical Probability” was a little more realistic than the storyline of “This Is What Happy Looks Like”—but I’m going to stop myself there and not compare two entirely separate books. I feel like the main reason this story reaches out to us so much—just like its characters—is the fact that what happens to Hadley and Oliver can very much happen to us one day. I mean, two people meeting in an airport because one of them missed her flight due to a series of seemingly insignificant events? That could happen to anyone. And there are people all around us, strangers we’ve never talked to, but with one tiny event can alter what happens after it in unimaginable ways. That’s what I love about “Statistical Probability”: The touch of fate that gives our otherwise uneventful lives some hope and magic. I do have to admit, however, that there were times when things were a little bit clichéd and predictable—but maybe that’s how life is sometimes.
Ms. Smith’s writing cannot go unmentioned when talking about “Statistical Probability”. I remember finding myself completely enchanted by her lyrical prose, and the writing in this novel doesn’t disappoint. As always, the words strung together into sentences, and then into paragraphs and chapters and so on, are evocative and elegant, yet simple at the same time. Ms. Smith uses small, striking images to conjure up the reader’s emotions and memories, and then through those reader’s recollections, establishes an undeniably personal connection between her story and the reader’s own life. It truly tugs at your heartstrings, in ways that are both bitter and sweet, and that kind of writing is just truly magical in its own way.
All in all, “The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight” is a must-read, with relatable characters, beautiful, evocative prose, and a reminder that there’s magic in ordinary life. This novel left me feeling refreshed and hopeful for what’s to come in life, and I highly, highly recommend this book for anyone who needs a little renewal of hope, and faith, to brighten their days.