What an eye-catching book this is. It was an impulsive buy because I’m not familiar with the author nor am I a fan of the genre, but when I saw it I felt the need to read it. I’m happy to say that the story was just as good.
The plot is quite straightforward. Hadley is just about to board a plane to London to attend her dad’s wedding. She dreads doing it because after her father left them she hasn’t been able to forgive him or even come to terms with it. She hates her future stepmother even though she hasn’t met her before, and she hasn’t seen her dad in over a year. But now she can’t go back and she’s trapped in an airport waiting for her flight, getting more and more anxious as the minutes go by. That’s how she meets Oliver, a charming and cute guy just about her age, who’s also flying to London and happens to be seated right next to her. What they don’t know is that in a matter of 24 hours, and thanks to fate and chance, they will become friends and much more.
The book is quite interesting and it grabbed my attention from page one. At first I wasn’t so sure about the story because it felt like your typical teenage angst-driven drama, where the characters are, well, teenagers, and behave as such, meaning that they are over the top, self-centered and dramatic. And don’t get me wrong, they are (or Hadley is, at least), but at some point I stopped being bothered by this and started rooting and understanding her. Hadley was young and felt betrayed by her father. It’s one of those situations where you realize that your parents are flawed and human, it’s difficult to accept it and even more difficult to do so at 17. So she’s angry, scared and she doesn’t know what to do but lash out. I found her character realistic, annoying and endearing, all at the same time. She definitely won me over because I went from thinking: “Oh grow up Hadley, you’re being unreasonable and childish. The pain won’t go away but just learn how to deal with it already!” to thinking: “I hope she makes a scene and ruins the wedding because her dad deserves it”. So apparently this book has the ability to induce regression since I became a spoiled brat while reading it. Halfway through the story I was completely into it.
Oliver, the hero, wasn’t as fleshed out as Hadley and plays more of a secondary role since I believe the book is more about Hadley learning to accept the new circumstances in her life, than an actual love story. However, he was an endearing and swoon-worthy hero. There’s a bit of a mystery surrounding him that was pretty obvious to me, but still represents an interesting contrast to what’s going on in Hadley’s life and once again shows us how self-centered and blind we can be when it comes to our own problems.
My favorite thing about the whole book was the love story. Despite what the title says, there isn’t a love-at-first-sight moment, there’s an instant connection and the characters share some incredible chemistry, but the end is more like a beginning or a promise of things to come, which I always find fitting when it comes to YA novels because the idea of teenagers finding forever love makes me uncomfortable. At least I want to think that there’s going to be a long, long courtship in the middle.
Ms. Smith has a wonderful voice that I think is better suited for a book about adults. When I was reading it I kept thinking how out of character it was. This quote in particular should illustrate what I mean:
“It was his fault, all of it, and yet her hatred for him was the worst kind of love, a tortured longing, a misguided wish that made her heart hammer in her chest. She couldn’t ignore the disjoined sensation that they were now two different pieces of two different puzzles, and nothing in the world could make them fit together again.”
A compelling prose but teenagers don’t think or speak like that, at least not usually, and certainly not Hadley. All of her dialogues are those of a regular, somewhat mature, 17 year old, so that inner-dialogue and descriptions felt unrealistic and out of place. Having said that, I did enjoy the writing style and I can’t wait to read more by this author.
Overall it was a quick read and a different YA novel. I’m sure fans of the genre, and of romance in general, will love it. It was a touching tale about forgiveness and coming to terms with not-so-perfect circumstances, a beautiful love story with a wonderful portrayal of a complex father-daughter relationship.
Review by Brie
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. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that 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 in seat 18C. Hadley's in 18A.
Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.
Poppy; January 2, 2011.