As romantic fantasies go, meeting the love of your life in an airport is a pretty good one. Think about it—you’re stuck in one building for an extended period of time. I mean, what else is there to do besides eat overpriced danishes, read trashy magazines and fall in love with a total stranger? Okay, so the first two are things I do in an airport, but the third is what happens in Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.
Hadley is making the unhappy flight to London, where her father’s getting married to a woman Hadley’s never met and already hates. It’s in the airport that she meets Oliver, who turns out to have nice manners, good looks and a British accent (first rule of YA romance: everyone loves accents). And, wouldn’t you know it, the two of them finagle a way to sit next to each other on the long flight over the ocean.
I think a good romance is sort of like a good horror movie–they both rely on suspense, a gradual build. I’m way more terrified by The Shining or House of the Devil than I am by whatever gory slasher film the kids like these days (I’m old). The long, long conversation between Oliver and Hadley involves almost no physical contact, yet it’s still the sort of romantic exchange that grabs your attention and won’t let you put the book down.
Before TSPOLAFS, I never really thought of planes as super-romantic places (well, aside from that one scene from The Wedding Singer), but a night flight over the ocean is actually a prime space for an intimate conversation. You’re stuck there, it’s dark and it’s not like you have anything better to do. It’s in this liminal airspace that Hadley and Oliver totally fall for each other. Love is in the air, you guys, am I right?! I’ll see myself out.
But the flight can’t last forever, and soon they’re in London, where Hadley has to go to the wedding and Oliver’s off to his destination. Will they find each other again? And, if they do, will it ever be like it was on the plane? Can they find a way to love each other even when real life and real problems are in the way? Stop asking me so many rhetorical questions! I’m not ruining the book for you! You’ll have to read it yourself (and, luckily, it’s super-cheap on Amazon!).
-I know I say this a lot, but this book might be the perfect romance. It’s has just the right mix of realism and over-the-top swoonworthy moments. And the settings are great. Airport! Airplane! London! How could it get better?
-You know what TSPOLAFS reminded me of? Serendipity, the movie starring John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, and a very silly gloves-shopping scene. Yes, I’ve seen Serendipity more than once, but that doesn’t mean I liked it. It just means I had a weird crush on John Cusack in high school because I loved Say Anything and maybe I had a poster of the boombox scene on the wall of my dorm room in college, but we’re not here to judge my transgressions, okay? Anyway, Serendipity is all about how Kate Beckinsale decides that instead of exchanging numbers LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE, she should write her contact info in a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera and if she and John Cusack are meant to be, he’ll just magically find it. I just…even thinking about that makes me mad. That’s no way to live your life, Kate Beckinsale. So when Hadley and Oliver go their separate ways without even learning the other’s last name, it kind of reminded me a not-stupid version of Serendipity that doesn’t involve Jeremy Piven. Guys, I’m sorry I went off on this Serendipity tangent, but I never get to talk about how much this movie angers me. This book is better than Serendipity is what I’m saying! Also I kind of love Serendipity even though it’s terrible. You got me. Ugh.
-One of the reasons TSPOLAFS is so great is that Jennifer E. Smith is great at writing romance and real things. Unhappiness, family drama, broken relationships and all of that stuff. Don’t get me wrong, this is a totally magical and swoon-y love story, but it’s also about Hadley’s weird family dynamic. Hadley’s dad left her and her mom behind in American when he fell in love with a British woman, and Hadley has to deal with her conflicted feelings. He broke her heart and her family, but should she forgive him and let him be happy?