If you love Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I love Before, or ship Jonah+Vivi from Emery Lords novel When We Collided you will adore Jen Smith and her romantic, young adult novels.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is set during a 24 hour period, mainly in an airport, in which Hadley meets Oliver, a Brit who is also travelling to London to attend a service in a church.
‘But though she’s told a longer version of the story a thousand times before to a thousand different people, she gets the feeling that Oliver might understand better than anyone else. It’s something about the way he’s looking at her, his eyes punching a neat little hole in her heart. She’s knows it’s not real: it’s the illusion of closeness, the false confidence of a hushed and darkened plane, but she doesn’t mind. For the moment, at least, it feels real.’
Field Notes on Love explores timing and fate as Hugo is dumped by his girlfriend Margaret Campbell just before their planned trip across America by train, which unfortunately is non-transferable and is booked under her name. This means that in order for Hugo to go on his 18th birthday trip, he must find a ‘replacement’ Margaret Campbell willing to travel with him.
‘”It’s not supposed to reflect reality,” she said. “Reality is all well and good. But sometimes you just want to pretend the world is a better place than it actually is. That great and wonderful things can happen. That love triumphs over everything.” It isn’t until now, though, that Mae fully gets it, the pleasure of letting reality fall away. Whatever is happening with Hugo is just as ridiculous as those movies. Maybe even more so. It’s unlikely and temporary and deeply uncharacteristic. But still, she can’t shake the feeling that she’s fallen straight into one of those stories.’
Enter Mae a budding filmmaker, who is emotionally closed off to love. When Priyanka, Mae’s best-friend convinces her to answer Hugo’s advert, she learns more about herself and her beloved Nan’s fascination with affairs of the heart.
Windfall is a typical ‘young adult romance’ in that it follows Alice (an orphan who lives with your Aunt and Uncle) who is in love with her best friend Teddy, who ultimately turns out to love her too. However the most fascinating thing about the novel is that Teddy becomes the youngest ever winner of the lottery.
‘They snapped and groaned and muttered. But they also laughed and teased and joked. They felt deeply and cared hugely. They tried to leave their mark on the world, with no idea they’d have so little time to do it. And they loved me. They loved me so much.’
It raises the question ‘What would you do at 18 with 141.3 million dollars? Would you buy a red Ferrari? Would you give it all to charity? How would you deal with all the piranhas that want to be your “friend”?’ I like to think I would be philanthropic but the temptation to have a waredrobe full of Oscar de la Renta would probably be too much.