Jennifer E. Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

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The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight Summary

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The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (2012), a young adult contemporary romance novel by Jennifer E. Smith, centers on a young girl who meets the love of her life while traveling to her father’s second marriage. The book received award nominations, including the 2014 Rhode Island Teen Book Award and the 2015 Lincoln Award. The author of numerous young adult novels, Smith is best known for The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. Her books are available in more than thirty languages.

Seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s parents divorced a year ago. While her mother is still grieving the marriage breakup, her father plans to marry his much younger girlfriend whom he met while lecturing at Oxford University. The affair broke her parents’ marriage apart. Sickened by the whole scenario, Hadley wishes her father understood how she feels.

To make matters worse, Hadley is going to be a bridesmaid. She doesn’t want to be at the ceremony, but she doesn’t have a choice. She is upset because she feels that she is betraying her mother. Once the wedding is over, Hadley never wants to see her soon-to-be stepmother again—even if this means saying goodbye to her father. She hasn’t seen her father since the divorce, anyway, now that he lives in England.

When the book opens, Hadley is leaving for London. Arriving late at the airport, she misses her flight by four minutes. Although she doesn’t want to go to the wedding, she knows she is in big trouble for missing her flight. After much pleading, she is reassigned to a new flight before she must tell her parents anything. The problem is that she won’t make the wedding because the flight is too late.

Hadley boards the plan, sitting next to a handsome teenage boy. The boy introduces himself as Oliver. He is British and studies at Yale University. Returning home for a vacation, he is happy to have someone to talk to. Assuming he is a typical posh boy, Hadley doesn’t talk to him at first, but she soon warms to his charm and his friendly demeanor.

The plane lands in London. Hadley has completely lost track of time. Talking to Oliver, hours feel like minutes. She plans to ask him for his contact info, but when they pass through customs, they lose sight of each other. Hadley is disappointed because she knows she won’t see Oliver again; she feels she wasted an opportunity.

Hadley reluctantly turns up at the wedding. She can’t stop thinking about Oliver. Wishing she knew more about him, she spends all day obsessing over every detail of their conversation. She figures that she might find him online if she looks hard enough. It’s worth the effort because they both stay near New York, and she’d love to see him again.

Meanwhile, the wedding ends. As Hadley is on her way back to her hotel, she overhears people talking about a church funeral. Someone mentions a boy called Oliver who is visiting from the U.S. for the service. Hadley immediately assumes that this is the same Oliver she is looking for; she realizes Oliver isn’t on vacation—he’s attending a funeral for his estranged father. Now, Hadley understands why Oliver understood her family troubles. He has plenty of his own.

Hadley’s father asks her to come with him to the party after the wedding. Hadley, however, refuses to go. Her father asks her where she is going, and she explains she has better things to do than watch her father dance with another woman. Hadley knows she has hurt her father, but she can’t help it. It is the first time she has been honest with him. She leaves the wedding and goes hunting for Oliver.

Hadley navigates London’s confusing public transport system. When she reaches the church, she hesitates. She doesn’t know Oliver or his family. He might not want her there. Hadley wonders if she is crazy. Secretly, she hopes it is the wrong Oliver so she doesn’t embarrass herself. She gathers her courage and enters the church.

Hadley quickly spies Oliver while she is lurking near the back of the church. He gives her a weak smile, but he doesn’t approach her. His response confirms Hadley’s worst fears—he was only passing time on the plane, and he doesn’t care about her. He probably thinks she is a stalker. She should leave before she humiliates herself any more.

Hadley returns to the wedding and apologizes to her father. They reconcile and she dances with him. She tells him how she feels about what he did to her mother. She is angry that he broke their family apart. Although Hadley’s father admits he was wrong, he wishes she would try harder with her new stepmother.

Hadley reluctantly agrees to be nice to her father’s new wife. She doesn’t know what the future holds, because she will always side with her mother. Now that she has forgotten about Oliver, he reappears. He apologizes for ignoring her earlier—he was just surprised to see her. He asks her for a dance, and they promise to keep in touch when they return to New York.