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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 gorgeous, heartwarming reminder of the power of fate... an endearing and lushly written account of how it feels to fall in love, the unique heartbreak of parental disappointment and what it means to forgive those who've hurt us deeply."―The New York Times Book Review
"A fast-paced and entertaining novel with a superlatively romantic premise...readers will be as caught up as Hadley is by the physical and emotional distances she traverses."
"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."
"The elegant, poignant story is written primarily in present tense, giving the novel a cinematic effect and intensifying Hadley's roller-coaster emotions over the twenty-four-hour period. Hadley is a determined, thoughtful protagonist who, given little bits of luck, isn't afraid to create her own destiny. She anchors this bittersweet-mostly sweet-consideration of loss, marriage, fate, and love."
―The Horn Book
"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
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Top customer reviews
The budding romance between Oliver and Hadley was sweet I had no issues there, what I had issues with had to do with Hadley's mom and dad. I wasn't a fan of the mom for making Hadley go to a wedding she clearly did not want to go to and I was not a fan of her dad at all I hated how easily Hadley forgave him after what he did I expected her to give him a harder time.
Overall this was a simple and quick read and I don't regret picking this one up although it probably wont be the most memorable of books that I've read this year so far.
I adored The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight when I first read it a couple years ago. I actually read it while flying, which was a cute (and appropriate) tie-in to the book. (No, sadly I did not meet an Oliver on my plane.) I breezed through it the first time, finishing it before my plane landed. It was sweet and uncomplicated, but extremely well written. I highlighted roughly 25% of the book because I loved the words that much. I decided to re-read it in audiobook format this year because ... well, because I liked it so much and I wanted to. :) It's quite possible I loved this book even more the second time around. After reading several angsty, super emotional books, I found it light and charming. It had some emotional moments, but nothing too heavy. How much do I adore this book? Well, I own it in paperback, eBook and audiobook formats. That should tell you something. :)
"I hate airports."
"Really?" Oliver says. "I love them."
She's convinced for a moment, that he's still teasing her, but then realizes he's serious.
"I like how you're neither here not there. And how there's nowhere else you're meant to be while waiting. You're just sort of... suspended."
As someone who pretty much detests everything about flying, I found myself understanding Hadley very well. I could totally relate to her. It's hard to pinpoint what my least favorite thing about flying is, but it's something between the hurry up and wait, the all but stripping down to go through security and the actual act of being trapped in a tiny, airborne space for hours. (Doesn't even matter how large the plane is. I still feel trapped.) But I enjoyed reading Oliver's thoughts about flying. I wish I could think more like him when I needed to fly somewhere for work. I don't fly for "fun."
"There's no real distinction between last night and this morning, of course – just dark bleeding into light – but even so, everything feels horribly different."
"She wishes they could turn around and fly back in the other direction, circling the globe backwards, chasing the night they left behind."
"Because that's what you do on planes. You share an armrest with someone for a few hours. You exchange stories about your life, an amusing anecdote or two, maybe even a joke. You comment on the weather and remark about the terrible food. You listen to him snore. And then you say good-bye."
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love when books put two characters together for a pre-determined amount of time, whether it's that they're stuck somewhere, on a road trip or just thrown together for a project or assignment. This is actually the book that started my love of that plot device. I loved how Hadley and Oliver met and how they connected during their time together on the plane to London. You can learn a lot about a person when you have nowhere else to go and that's exactly what they did here. I was sad to see them get off the plane and go their own separate ways. They were just so darn cute together.
"Love is the strangest, most illogical thing in the world."
There's actually more emphasis on family in this book than romance. Hadley's on her way to her father's wedding. Oliver is on his way to... something family-related. Neither of them is particularly excited to be going either. When they depart them plane and go their separate ways, we only keep up with Hadley as she attempts to come to terms with her father being remarried to a woman she's just meeting for the first time. She's out of place and feels unwanted. Her relationship with her father is strained, for obvious reasons. She finds herself thinking more and more about Oliver and wondering if she'll see him again.
If you are a fan of young adult contemporary books and you've not yet read this book, I urge you to pick it up. Hadley is a realistic and likable character. I found her easy to relate to, even though she's quite a bit younger than me. Oliver was completely charming. Who doesn't love a sweet and slightly mysterious guy with a British accent? It's a sweet little book with a bunch of feels. I love that the major theme of the book is how timing can affect your life. I'm a big believer that everything happens for a reason and I love how this book illustrates that.
And just remember:
"People who meet in airports are seventy-two percent more likely to fall for each other than people who meet anywhere else."
The audiobook version of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight was well-performed. The actress was believable as Hadley and I thought the story flowed well through her voice. At just a little over five hours long, this is a relatively quick audiobook read as well.
I'm reviewing the audiobook format, but I also received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So this review is serving a dual purpose. All quotes are from the FINAL VERSION of the book, not the galley copy.
One quick thing to note that I didn’t like is the narration style. This is told in 3rd person past tense in one of those all-knowing eye in the sky type voices. I didn’t enjoy this in Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between and I can’t say that I liked it any more in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. This is really just a personal preference. Not my favorite narration style/voice. Any character’s emotions or thoughts are open for discussion at any given point. And I don’t love that. I like the mystery of how each character (and therefore the reader) doesn’t always know what the other characters are thinking/feeling.
There’s a lot of negativity around stories where characters fall in love too quickly or the entire book happens within one day. I was a little wary of that going into this book even though I’m normally not bothered by that so much. I do think it’s possible for two people to develop an intense and unique connection within that time frame, but love is pushing it. However, I found The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight appropriate. There were no real declarations of love even if the connection did exist. So if this bothers you, have no fear.
I will say that I struggled with Hadley off and on throughout the book. I was annoyed that so much of the beginning was backstory surrounding Hadley’s parents failed marriage. It really was necessary set up for the entire story, but I wanted to jump right into the fun stuff happening now rather than dwell on her past. Even though I can 100% understand the anger and bitterness that Hadley feels toward her father, sometimes she really got on my nerves. But again. I have to put myself in her shoes and say that I probably would have felt very much the same way that she did.
While I was reading The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight I was really enjoying the romantic buildup between Hadley and Oliver. The nature of the way that they meet and how there’s an impending time of departure hanging over their heads makes their situation unique. Everything that needs to be said needs to be said before they have to leave each other or risk never knowing what could have been and live with that regret. Yet how much of a connection can you really develop with someone in less than 24 hours? Enough to risk coming out of your comfort zone? By how much?
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is just as much about Hadley’s relationship with her father as it is with her developing relationship with Oliver. Which is probably why my only highlights revolve around Hadley’s relationship with her father.
-In the end, it’s not the changes that will break your heart; it’s that tug of familiarity.
-After all, it’s one thing to run away when someone’s chasing you. It’s entirely another to be running all alone.
-And this was the most unfair part of it all: What Dad had done, he hadn’t just done to him and Mom, and he hadn’t just done to him and Hadley. He’d done it to Hadley and Mom, too.
In the end, I really enjoyed The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight while I was reading through it. I finished it within 24 hours. But now that I’ve had a couple of days to reflect, I don’t think Hadley and Oliver’s relationship or this book will be marked down as an epic story that I remember forever and ever. Would I recommend reading this? 100%. But is it going to fall into an all-time favorite for me? Probably not. I’d still give it 4 Stars. Have you read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight? What did you think? Let me know!