Recently, after having some excited Twitter chats and starting a Goodreads group to have super long convos about books we’ve all read and loved, Rachel at Confessions of a Book Geek, Brandie at Brandie is a Book Junkie, and I started what we are cheekily calling Babes and Books, an irregular joint reviews in a super conversational format that allow us to have fun and coordinate our TBRs. You might’ve seen our first review (Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher) though it wasn’t branded with our Babes and Books name – that was a recent development. Our first official read was The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith – though this one is from only Rachel and me. Enjoy the rambling!
Check out the full synopsis of the book on Goodreads.
Stef: Out of the three Jennifer E. Smith books I’ve read (this one, The Geography of You and Me and This is What Happy Looks Like) this is my favorite. I think it’s because I felt the most similar to Hadley – I couldn’t relate to the divorce thing, but I related to HER, if that makes sense? I also know what it’s like to fly alone to a place you’ve never been, where you know no one, and to go out and try to find where you’re going. You feel lost, excited, terrified, happy, nervous. I loved that aspect of it – the trip, the adventure. I also am head over heels for Oliver. He’s so swoony! Smith really knows how to write love. I thought it was well-paced, well-written, and a lot of fun.
Rachel: I’ve only read one Smith book before, The Geography of You and Me, and I gave it the same rating I’m going to give this one. When I step back and look at it, it’s difficult to pin-point much that jumps off the page as being “wrong” with her books, but they just don’t reach me on a deeper level. Smith’s writing style is enjoyable (and her book titles AMAZING!), her writing is adorable and sweet – like it’ll give you cavities sweet, but there’s something about the stories that just don’t blow me away. I love that her characters always have something going on in their lives that they’re trying to deal with (death, divorce, moving etc.), as it adds a sense of realism, but equally, that’s usually taken away by the unlikely and slightly obscure scenarios they find themselves in – like falling for someone in 24 hours. There’s something whimsical and fairy-tale like about it, which while enjoyable, prevents me from falling in love with this novel the same way Hadley fell for Oliver.
It the book were set over a longer time-frame, it would obviously lose its 24 hour love-at-first-sight bonus, but it might have helped develop the story to the point where I could take it more seriously. For example, I’d love to know what happens when Oliver and Hadley return to America. I think this is the kind of book I’d have LOVED and gobbled up as a young teenager in love with the idea of love, but as an older reader it didn’t blow me away. It’s not one I’d shout about from the rooftops, put it that
Stef: I absolutely love her titles too! When I interviewed her last year (link), she said she has started to have trouble coming up with them – because she’s become known for having long and intricate titles. I asked her to come up with one for her life and she said – This is What the Statistical Probability of Happiness Looks Like. I absolutely love her writing style. Your cavity-description is spot on. Most of the time, I don’t like books like that, but sometimes you just WANT that, and I always find myself uncontrollably smiling when reading her books. I love that the characters have depth as well. It’s more realistic that way. Her characters feel so real, even when what’s happening doesn’t necessarily feel real. I don’t really know if I believe in a love like this, in falling love within only 24 hours, but when reading Statistical Probability, I believed it. Does that make sense? I think the way that Smith writes her characters and their emotions hooks me and sweeps me away and I didn’t even really think about the fact it was only 24 hours.
I NEED to know what happens when they get back to the States, but I think that’s why I like it – it’s hopeful but not definite. Maybe they don’t work out. Maybe they are just friends. Either way, I loved them together.
I actually think I wouldn’t have liked it if I’d read it when I was a teenager. I didn’t like contemporaries (other than the RARE Sarah Dessen) when I was in high school. I wasn’t a huge fan of romances when reading, but I’ve grown to enjoy them more as I’ve gotten older. Funny that you would’ve felt the opposite.
Rachel: I definitely feel that you should only read her books when you have a sweet craving, otherwise it may fall a little flat. When I read The Geography of You and Me I was coming out of a two week slump because of a book I was struggling through and eventually DNF’d, and Smith was just the kind of light relief I needed. When I was reading this, I didn’t really question the characters’ emotions until towards the end when the grand gestures came into play. It just felt a bit… stalkerish/odd to do something like that? But hey, maybe if we had more courage we could meet an Oliver too!
Oh gosh, I’d have gobbled this right up as a teen, even when I was reading this I felt nostalgic for younger me, I was innocent and less cynical about love and I’d have adored this, most likely dreaming one day that this could happen to me! I think this is a case where reading YA as an adult is impacted/affected by life experience!
Have to say – I definitely fancied a bit of Oliver!
Stef: I completely agree that her books can’t really be read all the time. I have to be in the mood for it too. If I’m not in the mood for the sweetness, I’ll end up not liking it because it’s just too much. Her books are light and sweet and adorable, and sometimes you really need that and sometimes you just don’t.
I do think Hadley’s actions were a little weird, but I suppose if you’ve had that kind of connection with someone, you might do something like this. I’ve never had that kind of connection with anyone so it was a little strange to me, but I suspended my disbelief for a little while and just went with it. Oliver is so swoony!!
Rachel: I probably am the nutter who would make a grand gesture and the other person would be all confused going, “Uh, thanks and all, but I never liked you anyway”… awkward!
Stef: Hahahaha! I’d probably be the same. The guy would be side-eyeing me like “Wtf? Freak.” Lol.
What did you think of the first Babes and Books review? Have you read TSPOLAFS?
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Publication Date: January 2, 2012
236 pages, paperback