Book: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Better title: Been Pissed at My Dad for a Year But it’s All Okay Now
Synopsis: Hadley Sullivan hasn’t seen her father for a year, and now she’s going to London for his wedding to a woman she’s never met. In the airport she meets a hot British guy named Oliver, but loses track of him when the plane lands. Hadley slumps to the wedding without even having gotten Oliver’s phone number, tries to figure out what role she has or wants in her dad’s new life, and learns that there are worse things than a father who leaves for another woman.
Is this a “must-read”?: No.
Why?: If this plot seems familiar, it may be because you’ve watched What a Girl Wants, read Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, or seen any romantic comedy ever. Now replace the envelopes with Our Mutual Friend, the aristocrat-land from What a Girl Wants with an epic wedding, and the comedy with daddy issues. Congratulations, you’ve got The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. Not that Our Mutual Friend isn’t an important symbol, or that it wasn’t necessary to have the wedding be huge (though it begs the question of just how many friends one person can make in a year), and Hadley’s perfectly within her rights to have some problems with the father she hasn’t seen in a year and who has decided the best time for her to meet her stepmom is on the day he marries her. But this book was still the definition of “meh.”
The second Hadley met Oliver, my “Gary Sue” alarm went off, and my first instinct was proven right when his main flaw turned out to be being sad and angry about...something it’s completely reasonable to be sad and angry about (it’s so hard to do this without spoilers). The entire novel takes place over the course of one day, so we don’t get to know the characters too well, but Hadley unfortunately suffers from the irritating “I fit society’s ideal of beauty exactly but I still don’t find myself attractive” syndrome that every YA leading lady seems to have. Honestly, the best thing about this book was the portrayal of how marital issues affect the children of said marriages.
Hadley had almost no warning when her parents split; in fact, she thought they were getting along great, but then out of the blue her dad didn't come back from England. She was her mom’s rock for a long time and was really, legitimately pissed at her dad. The description of the emotional roller coaster Hadley goes through as she adjusts to life with a single mom was both sympathetic and realistic. But it’s all ruined at the end. Without spoilers, all I can say is it comes across as one of those endings where the author got tired of writing and just decided to wrap everything up neat while completely disregarding everything we’d learned about the characters up until then. That said, the writing itself was quite nice and I really think Jennifer E. Smith has a great career ahead of her; this book just went belly-up with the ending. And the recycled plot. And the Mary Sues.
Next time: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Have you read this book? Did you like it?