The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Posted May 10, 2012 by Tara in Challenges /// 12 Comments

I fell in love with this cover, and then I fell in love with the title.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
by Jennifer E. Smith
Poppy/Little Brown
Purchased on my Nook
[#39 in my 75 book challenge]

If you’re looking for a cute, romantic book, this is it.

Hadley Sullivan misses her flight to London for her father’s wedding. Little did she know that missed flight would change her life. Oliver is also on that flight, British native returning home from his studies at Yale, and his ticket is for the seat two down from hers. The story takes place over twenty-four hours and Hadley and Oliver meet and Hadley comes to terms with her father’s remarriage. She learns a thing or two from Oliver, and he changes her life.

This book is classic romantic comedy. Hadley is putting up walls all over the place because she doesn’t believe in love — not after her father left her mother for another woman in another country. Oliver is cute, smart, British, and funny…the right combination for knocking down Hadley’s walls. There’s some depth to the story, and it wasn’t full of cliches, but the basic idea was pretty standard romcom.

There were no math equations or real nerdy moments (beyond some English teacher-y stuff). I was expecting some John Green-esque nerdiness, since he loved the book and all. It was minimal. More heavy on the family drama.

What I liked most about the book: Hadley gets things quickly. Sometimes you want to shake lead characters because they miss details or miss hints, but Hadley’s on it. That’s how this story avoided cliches. I do want to shake her for the whole grumpy, “I’m so pissed at my dad and I hate this wedding” bit, but the way she realistically and logically changes at the end makes up for it.

What I liked least about the book: I’m too jaded to really appreciate a book about eighteen-year-olds falling in love. We always see the FALLING but never the STAYING in love. Romantic Comedies are just as terrible about this as YA romance is. There’s always a dramatic build up, a romantic climax, and then the story ends with the declaration of feelings. What? That’s where the story begins! We romanticize the falling in love part. This book does exactly that.

FINAL GRADE:   C   Overall, good. But probably not overly memorable. It would make a great romantic comedy. It would also be a great addition to my middle school media center — good message, no sex or violence. Just nice, PG-level kissing, very pre-teen appropriate. The kids would like it. Fans of YA contemporary romance will enjoy it, and I have a few friends I’ll recommend it to.

How do you feel about romantic comedy romance? Does it affect how you think of real-life romance or is it just for fun?


Tara is a PhD student studying education. Her dissertation will be on digital book communities as public pedagogy (ask her about it!), though she often takes a break from all of that to read books about oppressive governments and sassy teenagers. In a former life, she was a middle school teacher and middle school librarian. In her future life, she's a professor of YA lit. In her free time, she drinks a lot of coffee while planning her next grand adventure (there's always something).

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12 responses to “The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

  1. It’s funny that you mention the “STAYING in love” part. I just read something by Diana Gabaldon (author of the AMAZING Outlander series) where she said something to the effect of not wanting to write about a romance, but rather a marriage. I highly, highly recommend this book series to anyone, regardless of what genre they normally read.

  2. Good review and very honest grade, I think! I wish we could have some romantic comedy as appeared in Pride and Prejudice, for example. You know, where the comedy is largely created by the surrounding social milieu and sets of expectiations. I think some of this is being written in India and Singapore nowadays.

  3. I would definitely recomend this book. It’s just the kind of dynamic I love. Not a cheesy superficial romance but a bond formed by two way communication. I loved how both people had drama going on in their lives making the story less about finding your sole mate and more about being there for someone when they need it.

    I also dont believe that a good message and family friendly content should be something we limit to kids. we need to bring back family friendly fiction instead of kids and adult fiction

  4. I have also read this book, and thoroughly agree with your review–as beach reading goes, this book was adequate. When I picked this book up, it was just for a little between-classes fun, but I found that I enjoyed it far more than I normally would the sort of “tween” fiction that this book embodies.
    In terms of the review itself: it was good, but I did spot a few glaring grammatical errors (not to be rude or anything).

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