The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Jennifer E. Smith's third novel begins at 6:56 Eastern Standard Time, when seventeen-year-old Hadley misses her flight to London by four minutes, and ends at 11:56 Greenwich Mean Time, by which point she is thoroughly smitten with her transatlantic flight seat mate, eighteen-year-old Oliver. During the twenty-four hours in between, there is a wedding, a funeral, several mad dashes across London by cab and by train, stolen kisses in public places, and several minor characters proffering grooming and wardrobe assistance (though, somewhat distressingly, no mention of shower access).

Hadley, "small and blond and pretty enough in the ways that seem to count," is en route to see her father marry Charlotte, the younger woman for whose sake he broke up their family the year before. Oliver has tousled hair, green eyes, a speck of mustard on his chin, and a sexy British accent that, happily enough, does not indicate his unavailability as future boyfriend material, seeing as he has chosen to attend Yale rather than Oxford. She carries a copy of Dickens that, to him, indicates she's not just another uncultured American high school girl.

They speak of life, love, and loss while hurtling over the ocean; once they part, Hadley says "the melody of their meeting runs through her mind on endless loop," yes, "like a song she can't get out of her head." Hadley and Oliver similarly stick with you long after the last page. Though one wonders if the young lovers may have had an easier time of it had they thought to exchange cell phone information, rather than rifling through bags for pens that were never found, the story perfectly captures the woozy, romantic longing of the young, the travel-bound, and the sleep-deprived.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.