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The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight Paperback – January 1, 2013
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Amazon One-on-One: Jennifer E. Smith and Margaret Stohl
Margaret Stohl is the bestselling author of the Beautiful Creatures series.
Margaret Stohl: Okay, Jen, it has to be asked: What’s your own take on the statistical probability--or even the vague possibility--of love at first sight? More to the point, has it ever happened to you? Would you know if it had? Would any of us? I wonder...
Jennifer E. Smith: I’d like to think it exists. I’m an optimist and a romantic--both key ingredients for believing in this sort of thing. But for me, time is also such an important part of any relationship--time to get to know each other, time to share stories, time to grow--so it’s hard to imagine that kind of instant connection. That said, I do know people who have experienced it firsthand, couples who have been together happily for a very long time, so it’s hard to argue with that. I guess that anecdotally--if not statistically--it seems to be possible, and since I’m in the business of telling stories rather than compiling statistics, that’s good enough for me!
Stohl: Your boy-meets-girl-meets-world happens on a flight across the Atlantic to Heathrow. My own teens are fencers, and we spend half our lives making that same flight for European tournaments. But why did you pick such an unusual setup? What’s the backstory there for you?
Smith: I suppose it could have been set on a flight headed anywhere, but there’s something about flying at night that seemed like an interesting backdrop for this type of story. Unfortunately, I have a complete inability to fall asleep on planes, so I’ve spent plenty of trips wide awake as the rest of the passengers doze off, and the cabin is always so hushed and dark and dreamlike during those hours. It seemed like the perfect setting for two people to get to know each other.
Stohl: I’ve had some of the strangest encounters of my life on planes. I’ve met people who have read my books or drawn me a map of recommended towns in Southeast Asia or recounted their entire life stories. How about you? Was there an encounter that inspired this story?
Smith: A few years ago, on a flight from Chicago to Dublin, I was seated next to a man from Ireland. He was reading a book that I loved, and we started chatting, and ended up talking for much of the flight. He was older--probably in his sixties--and there was nothing romantic about it, but it was nice to meet a kindred spirit, someone who loved books the way I do, and it made the hours pass quickly. When we arrived in Dublin, we walked off the plane together, but we ended up in separate lines for customs, since he was an Irish citizen. We didn’t exactly say good-bye; I think we both thought we’d see each other on the other side, but my line ended up being really slow, and when I finally made it through, he was gone. It was obviously a much different situation than the one in my book, but it definitely provided some of the initial inspiration for the story of Hadley and Oliver.
Stohl: What about your worst in-flight experiences? Perhaps not involving children and bodily fluids…?
Smith: Well, that narrows it down quite a bit! I’ve had a few harrowing experiences involving turbulence, one emergency landing, and a couple of awfully long flights to places like South Africa and New Zealand. But I can’t really complain too much. My worst experiences usually have to do with the fact that I can’t sleep on planes, and while there’s nothing quite like being wide awake for nine straight hours in a middle seat on a red-eye flight, I’ve actually been pretty lucky in the grand scheme of things.
Stohl: So much of our life is conducted in transit. We read on the subway or watch movies on trains or text someone on the way to work. What is Statistical Probability saying about the speed or the connectivity of modern life?
Smith: I definitely think it’s about slowing down and recognizing the possibilities. I’m as guilty as anyone of moving too fast. If the love of my life sat down next to me on a plane, I’m honestly not sure I’d give him much of a chance. When I’m traveling, I have my book and my music, and I’m in my own little world. It’s a good thing to remember to look up every once in a while.
Stohl: I loved the imperfect, fumbling family relationships in your novel; there was something so honest about your protagonist and her father. I identified with her fragmented emotions, with feeling two ways at once. How did you go about crafting such a layered character? Who do you identify with, on the page?
Smith: I definitely identified the most with Hadley, the main character. It kind of amazes me how easily I’m still able to see the world from the point of view of a seventeen-year-old. Maybe that’s true of everyone. Maybe we all carry around a little piece of our former selves, the teenagers we once were. But I think YA authors must be particularly attuned to this; perhaps our inner seventeen-year-olds are just a little bit closer to the surface.
Stohl: How is it, setting a story in modern-day London? Did you feel an obligation to get everything exactly "right"? Did you travel to the UK for research?
Smith: I did my graduate degree in Scotland a few years ago, and while I was there, two of my best friends were studying in London. I went down to visit them pretty often, and spent a lot of time wandering around the city on my own, taking it all in. It was a few years before those experiences worked their way into my writing, but if I’d never lived in the UK I probably wouldn’t have ever written this book, so I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity, in more ways than one. I was also lucky to make some great friends over there, and one of them was nice enough to read a very early draft for me. I managed to get most things right, but she definitely caught me out on a few Americanisms--using yard instead of garden, for example--so I was happy to have a Scottish consultant!
Stohl: Most writers are passionate readers; I know that the Dickens book Our Mutual Friend plays an important role in your story, just as To Kill a Mockingbird is significant in Beautiful Creatures. How often do books you’ve read feed directly into books you write?
Smith: I have a friend who refers to these as "book chains"--where you read one book and it leads you to another. As a passionate reader, I love when that happens. And as an author, what better way to highlight the books that have meant a lot to you? In college, my senior seminar was on Dickens, and so I read a lot of his work, but for some reason Our Mutual Friend was the one that really stuck with me. The quotes that I used in Statistical Probability are ones that I underlined in my old paperback edition of that book almost ten years ago, and I guess they never quite left me.
Stohl: What’s the statistical probability of another young adult romance from Jen Smith? Anything we can do to improve the odds?
Smith: The statistical probability is very, very good. I’m actually working on another one right now, a love story called This Is What Happy Looks Like. So stay tuned!--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"A closely observed, ultimately moving tale of love, family and otherwise....Smith's acute insights make Hadley's heartache and loss as real as the magical unfurling of new love."
"The teens are realistic and empathetic characters, and their story unfolds effortlessly, quickly capturing readers' interest. Fans of Sarah Dessen will enjoy this enchanting novel of family quandaries and love at first sight."
"A falling-in-love story as comfortable as an old sofa, and those looking for pages that turn easily will find a good candidate here."
"An extraordinary look at chance, connections, and the power of family and love, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight will make your heart sing."
―Elizabeth Scott, author of Between Here and Forever and Something, Maybe
"This phenomenal depiction of an instant connection shows that everything happens for a reason. Smith's unique story will make you contemplate the magic of fate. I've been waiting for a love story like this forever."―Susane Colasanti, bestselling author of So Much Closer and When It Happens
"Romantic and wise, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is a must-read. And the second you meet Oliver, you're going to pray you miss your next flight."
―Sarah Mlynowski, author of Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)
"Romantic, witty and real - it is a statistical certainty that you will love this book." ―Margaret Stohl, bestselling author of the Beautiful Creatures novels
"Sparkly dialogue and a great setting make this a Nora Ephron-esque treat."
―Elle Magazine (UK edition)
"This irresistible novel seems set to become one of the most talked about books of the year - think David Nicholls' One Day meets TV's 24... a brilliantly conceived read."
―Glamour Magazine (UK Edition)
Top Customer Reviews
Could hitting a red light change your life? Losing your phone charger? Getting a paper cut? Can a string of seemingly insignificant moments amount to something life changing? When Hadley misses her flight to London by four minutes, she never expects to meet Oliver - someone she instantly connects with, someone who's dealing with his own personal demons, someone who makes her view the world in a slightly different way.
Hadley. I love Hadley. Though I can't empathize with her particular set of circumstances, she's a character with whose situation, whose frankness and honesty I connected with. Hadley is a girl who has been greatly affected by her parents' divorce and it has left her very hurt and embittered toward her father, who left her and her mother. When her father decides to remarry, to the woman he left Hadley's mother for, she unwillingly finds herself in the one place she never hoped to be - on a plane to London, wedding-bound. I love Hadley's confusion in her feelings toward her father - her anger and resentment combined with her undeniable longing for the way things used to be. I love her gutsiness. I love how she wears her heart on her sleeve. I love her journey towards closure as her chance meeting with Oliver causes her to finally start dealing with some of her repressed issues.
Oliver's character is a wonderful compliment to Hadley's. Where Hadley doesn't hide her emotions well, Oliver is a bit more of a mystery. Though not quite as transparent as Hadley, I never felt as though he is anything less than genuine. I love Oliver's intelligent (and sometimes wicked) sense of humor, his keen insights, his rare moments of vulnerability, his kindness and general optimistic outlook.Read more ›
But this book did not even remotely relax me.
The premise is interesting. Hadley, on her way to London to attend her much dreaded father's wedding, misses her flight. Rescheduled for the next one three hours later, which will make her arrive barely on time, she meets Oliver, a British student at Yale, on his way to London for some other wedding. Sparks ensue. Will Hadley make it to the wedding? Will she see Oliver again?
At first, I thought that the problem I had with this book had to do with the narrative technique. The third-person limited didn't work well for me, I didn't get invested in the story that much. I couldn't connect to Hadley and even though there were some cute moments, the role I felt I was playing was just that of a polite observer. I guess I am a first-person type as far as these romantic stories are concerned, which makes total sense to me since it's not like the focal point is the world-building here but rather the characters and my involvement in the story.
But then, as the story developed, I realized that wasn't it - or rather, only marginally so.
What really disturbed me was my inability to like any of the main characters and the message they conveyed through their actions.
Let's start with Hadley's dad, a college professor.Read more ›
From the blurb on the cover, you would expect this novel to be romantic and cheesy, dealing you extraordinary and unbelievable events on every page.
But this is so, so not what this book is about.
Yes, Hadley and Oliver do have a chance meeting. Yes, there are "twists of fate" and "quirks of timing" that are romantic and sweet. But no, this book is not the touchy-feely, chance-happening-with-a-beautiful-stranger book that will either sweep you off your feet or make you puke, because it is believable.
When Hadley and Oliver meet, there are no perfect one-liners or smoldering glances, because when you meet a stranger, especially a handsome stranger, it is bound to be a little awkward in real life. It is no different in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. Hadley knows that when she agrees to let Oliver help her with her bags that he is a complete stranger, yet her circumstances, as well his, make it possible for them to connect despite their disconnect.
While most of Hadley and Oliver's interactions are endearing, they are also seared with grief and heartache, both known and unknown, as well as the uncertainty that comes with getting to know a person and trying to decide when they actually qualify as a friend instead of a stranger.
The way that Smith infused this quirky love story with Hadley's past experiences with her father, her parent's failed marriage, and the anger/confusion/grief that comes along with these types of situations was poignant and emotional. I felt very connected to Hadley during these moments. The story was definitely richer with the addition of a complicated, messy divorce, as well as Oliver's own story.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved this book. The drama kept coming throughout. I would recommend this book to everyone. Jennifer Smith is a great author!Published 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
I read this in June 2016 after picking up a copy on a whim from my library.
In this short novel, we meet two teenagers, Oliver and Hadley who spend one transatlantic... Read more
I enjoyed every word and will be reading more from this author! What a wonderful love story that captured and held my attention.Published 1 month ago by Nanarosie55
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight was such a fun & light read! I read this book while on my honeymoon in the Dominican Republic & it was the perfect beach read! Read morePublished 2 months ago by AshTrue