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REVIEW: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by...

Dear Ms. Smith:

I wanted to read this book but waited until it was out of hardcover (the price was too rich for me in hardcover). While I liked the voice, my problem with this book was the same as many other reviewers’ problem with this book.  We spent 80% of the book listening to the resentful (and righteously so) thoughts of Hadley  about her cheating father and 20% recovering from it.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight Jennifer E. SmithMaybe Hadley had a year to come to grips with the fact that after 17 odd years, Hadley’s father fell in love with another, much younger woman, while lecturing at Oxford but the reader has only about three chapters.  We experience her sense of loss, her mother’s depression and heartbreak, and her father’s physical abandonment for most of the story and then it seems that all she needed to do was be welcomed into the bosom of her step-mother’s family and all was well.  To say that the switch was abrupt is like saying there is a large body of water between the Eastern shoreboard of the U.S. and London.

The palette is supposed to cleansed, or at least eased, by the fact that Hadley’s mother is in a new relationship.  It’s details like that and the secret messages in the Dickens book her father gives her with passages underlined in pen that give the story a manufactured feel, not to mention Oliver’s existence.   I felt hostile to the conclusion even though I think I was supposed to be charmed.

Hadley arrives at the departure gate 4 minutes too late for her flight to London where she will attend the wedding of her father to this younger woman he fell in love with.  The next flight out is 3 hours later and places her in a seat next to a cute, tall British boy Oliver, who by his garment bag reveals he is going to London for an event as well.

The question of the book was about love but I never felt that it was interested in the ends of love, only the beginning.  Hadley and Oliver on the plane. Her father’s new love with Charlotte.  Her mother’s new love with the dentist.  There’s no permanency in any of the relationships depicted on the page.  Love is ephemeral, seems to be the unintentional message and while the book is supposed to be hopeful in a sort of love springs anew, I felt depressed at the end of it.

Hadley’s hurt at her father leaving her mother, leaving them goes unaddressed. His only answer is that he fell in love.  But he still loves her mother and still loves her.  Hadley’s forgiveness of him is because she thinks he looks right with his new bride?  It just doesn’t ring authentically to me.  In the chase for an uplifting ending, this book actually overreaches and heads the opposite direction.

The romance with Oliver is a throwaway. It’s superfluous and adds almost nothing to the story.  This is a story of Hadley forgiving her father rather than a lovely young adult romance.  I wasn’t sure what new understandings Hadley reached at the conclusion of the book.  Was it that love happens quickly but then fades just as quickly? That life is too short to be with people that you don’t love or that it is too short to hate people that you love?  Or was it just that I was to experience Hadley’s journey on the plane where she remembers her mother’s loss, her loss, and a couple memories of her dad being kind?  Hadley, that tingly feeling you got when you met Oliver? Those were endorphins and that feeling never lasts. Ask your dad.  C

Best regards,

Jane

 

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

10 Comments

  1. Bookworm1858
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 08:24:09

    Yes! I found this book so hard to read because I was really invested in Hadley’s dad being the awful dude who left his daughter and then I had to try to turn that around and I just could not do it. Honestly the book left me an emotional mess and I just wanted to curl up in a ball.

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  2. Sylvie
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 10:52:02

    This seems like a short vs. long book debate – possibly? There’s so much talk about publishers wanting books in this genre to be short, but the stories are so emotionally complex that short can’t do them justice.

    But I do really like that title.

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  3. Brie
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 12:23:54

    “Hadley, that tingly feeling you got when you met Oliver? Those were endorphins and that feeling never lasts. Ask your dad.”

    Man, that was harsh! Don’t you remember what it was like being a teenager? Of course it was true love!

    I liked this one quite a bit, but I don’t remember much about it except that at one point I stopped being annoyed by how whiny and angsty the heroine was, which speaks highly of the author’s ability to engage me. I did feel that inner-dialogue wasn’t authentic and that the prose didn’t match the characters, so it was a bit disconnected. And now that I think about it, the twist with Oliver was obvious and made the overall message of the story trite and heavy-handed. But I liked it, and her next book is on my wish list.

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  4. Sarah
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 20:09:53

    Oh my, yes, yes. I’ve actually felt like I was a crazy person for having a similar reaction to this book.

    Absolutely nothing rang as emotionally authentic to me and the rapid-fire forgiveness for Hadley’s father’s despicable behavior really frustrated me, since he’d done nothing whatsoever to earn it. Thanks to the blurb and early reviews, I was expecting ‘Before Sunrise’ on an airplane, but that was not at all what was delivered.

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  5. jane
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 20:11:21

    @Sylvie: I’m not sure how long the book is. Amazon says 257 pages. I think YA books are often shorter than the average mass market romances.

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  6. Tuere
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 06:39:14

    I overall enjoyed the book, despite its emotional roller coaster. Lol @ Bookworm! I DID kinda want to curl into a ball afterwards. For what it’s worth, I think it will resonate with the (too many) teens tackling divorce everyday. And as somewhat healthy as the conclusions were, they probably don’t parallel the realities we know. But that’s what artistic license is all about. A happy ending for all :)

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  7. Book Review: ‘The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight’ by Jennifer E. Smith | Ink and Page
    Apr 10, 2013 @ 11:50:26

    [...] Reviews: Goodreads Dear Author: Grade: C (@dearauthor) The New York Times [...]

  8. christine
    Apr 12, 2014 @ 10:08:27

    @Bookworm1858: I’m actually quite depressed. I’m already curled in a ball. I don’t understand how hadley could reconcile so easily with her dad after years of pent up anger and hurt, without telling him how she felt. On the other hand, the book made me happy. My best description is that its a bittersweet read. I definately want to read more of her books. Hopefully they will be less of an emotional rollercoaster.

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  9. Book: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight | taking a break
    Apr 13, 2014 @ 21:02:03

    […] to these things. So here are a few reviews I found online, to balance what I wrote about the book: Dear Author Reading Lark There Were Books […]

  10. Antonia Rodriguez
    Apr 17, 2014 @ 00:05:24

    It’s comforting to read that I’m not the only one who had quite a negative reaction to this book and I thank Jane for putting into words my feelings. Contrary to one of the comments above, I totally agree with Jane when she wrote:
    “Hadley, that tingly feeling you got when you met Oliver? Those were endorphins and that feeling never lasts. Ask your dad.”
    I personally believe the author, after writing convincingly Hadley’s justified feelings of resentment towards her Dad, could have come up with a better resolution, ie sure she could have forgiven her Dad and ‘moved on’/'grown up’ (whatever that means) as some other readers commented, but retaining some lingering feelings of resentment and not an ‘all is well’ and ‘love conquers all’ neat ending would have been a more convincing/satisfying ending.

    ReplyReply

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