The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

As with every young adult book ever written, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight has such wildly varying reviews it was impossible to know whether I’d like it or not. Turns out I liked it more than I expected.

Much of this book’s appeal to me was that I, too, in my later teens, caught an international flight to London on my own and ended up hanging out with a young English guy on the way. Unlike this story, I severely doubt it was true love – in fact I can’t even remember the guy’s name. However, it was a setup for a story that I wanted to read.

The book is – unusually – written in third person present tense, which was a little odd at first, but once I got used to it, it worked well for the story. As the entire thing happens over only one day, the immediacy of the tone worked.

A book billed as a teen romance with an English guy, starring an American heroine, is likely to be a little clichéd, and this is something I worried about going in. However – for the most part – I found the British language and the descriptions pretty accurate, with a few exceptions (e.g. I lived in London for years, and nobody walked around saying everything was ‘grand’.) But more on that later.

The book’s heroine is travelling to London for her father’s wedding. A couple of years earlier he travelled to Oxford on a poetry fellowship, met another woman, and abandoned his wife and daughter to stay in England.

Much of the story deals with the reconciliation between father and daughter. I think the father’s character was written better than any other in the story – but this is a bit of a problem. The guy is made out to be so sympathetic, and the author is obviously determined to manipulate us into feeling sorry for him.

It worked: I loved the guy. And I don’t think that was fair, considering what he did to ruin other people’s lives. Sometimes, I think, an author has a responsibility to not characterise the “bad guy” so we love him (new adult authors, I’m looking at you!).

So: to the Britain-versus-America theme.

Firstly, let me say that I think the language barriers were handled well. I generally can’t stand those ‘isn’t it cute how Brits speak differently!’ scenes, but in this book the author managed to portray the differences without falling into that trap. I also think that, as we saw the story from the American heroine’s perspective, she could be forgiven for some of her clichéd assumptions, especially as she learnt as she went on.

On the other hand:

London isn’t the jolly little fantasy land of mid-twentieth century children’s shows. It isn’t Mary Poppins. In Paddington you’re more likely to find speciality shops with Arabic writing on the signs than a vintage little chippy on every corner, and Westminster is crowded, multicultural, bustling, and chaotic on a quiet day; not quaint.

Talking to a stranger (hell, even making eye contact with a stranger!) in London is considered a huge social no-no, but here we have dear old brolly-toting ladies pottering about the Tube, helping our heroine out.

And no, most people in the world don’t shove wedding cake in each other’s faces!

I think it’s always easier to find faults and discuss those than to talk about what you loved, and I think I’ve done this here!

I will say two things: Jennifer E. Smith surprised me with her writing, and I definitely intend to seek more of it out.

And: never rely on Goodreads reviews to pick young adult reads. They’re as drama-filled as the books!

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Easter Long Weekend

We spent the Easter long weekend at Broulee on the New South Wales South Coast. The weather changes so fast at the beach – as you can see with the contrast in the sky from one day (and even hour!) to the next.

The best thing about the South Coast is how unpretentious and underdeveloped it is.

Here is Broulee:

A Victorian era cemetery on a cliff a short drive down the coast:

And Shelly Beach at Moruya Heads, where I used to go in the 80s and early 90s: 

From the Shadows

The Australian War Memorial here in Canberra, (which is actually a big military museum, not just a “memorial”), currently has an exhibition about the Special Forces: From the Shadows. As Monday was a public holiday we thought we’d better go and see it before we forget and it closes!

When we arrived, the brand new Army recruits were on a visit from Kapooka, and lined up outside for a group photograph.

The first two images are from the Special Forces part. The third is from the Vietnam War section of the building (my father is a veteran, and there are exhibits dedicated specifically to where he lived in Vietnam, and to a major battle he fought).

The fourth photograph is the view down ANZAC Parade from the War Memorial entrance. You can’t see it, but at the end of the road is Lake Burley Griffin, and then Australian Parliament is in the background.

ANZAC Parade is the street where people honour Australia’s military, and where parades happen. Both sides of the street are lined with monuments to military events (e.g. the First and Second World Wars, Vietnam, and beyond).

Look at the spectacular blue sky! According to the national news, it was cloudy and raining in Canberra. Uh…

IMG_20180312_175846_799 From the Shadows Special Forces Exhibition Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces

IMG_20180312_180202_131 Vietnam War Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces

IMG_20180312_180445_236 Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces ANZAC Parade Parliament House

Four Years

Kyiv Ukraine Euromaidan Memorials Sonya Heaney May 2016

A memorial to the dead I photographed in 2016.

Today is the fourth anniversary of the end of Ukraine’s Euromaidan revolution. On the 20th of February, 2014 pro-Russian snipers took to the streets and shot and killed as many civilians as they could manage.

pro-russian-snipers-shooting-ukrainians-in-kyiv-ukraine-20th-february-2014

Snipers in the same spot the memorials are now.

The revolution resulted in overthrowing the corrupt, dictatorial oligarch in charge of the country, but he fled to Russia and paved the way for Putin’s invasion shortly afterwards.

The Week: 8th – 14th January

Wednesday summer sunset in Canberra

Another week, another mess in the world… Today is “New Year” by the old calendar, if you need a reason to celebrate something this weekend.

Two stories out of Russia this week that I think are newsworthy!:

Russian man steals armoured tank, rams shop, steals one bottle of wine.

Russian man steals tank, rams shop, steals one bottle of wine.

Russian man steals tank, rams shop, steals bottle of wine..

And, more importantly:

Fewer than one in five Russians are okay with gay sex.

In fact, only 8% of Russians support homosexuality in any form:

Previous surveys showed that the number of Russians against gay sex has progressively increased, from 68 percent in 1998 to 76 percent in 2008.

This year, only 8 percent of respondents said there was nothing objectionable about sexual relations between adults of the same gender.

This is what happens when you let the church run your society and heavily influence your government. This sort of thing is happening in a number of former communist countries at the moment.

Coming Up for Brynn Kelly

Isle of Shadows A Risk Worth Taking the third book in Brynn Kelly‘s Legionnaires series

My review of Edge of Truth by Brynn Kelly

Edge of Truth by Brynn Kelly

Thomas Hardy’s Early Career

Thomas Hardy, OM (2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928) was an English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot, influenced both in his novels and in his poetry

Meet the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan

Meet the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan