A smartly observed novel rises above its apparently easy structure.
Although her mother has made peace with the situation, Hadley is still angry and hurt that her father left them for an Englishwoman. Rebooked on the next flight after missing her plane to London, where she’s to be a bridesmaid in their wedding, Hadley is seated next to the English boy who helped her in the terminal. He comes to her rescue again after she confesses she suffers from claustrophobia. A good-looking Yale student, Oliver is smart, funny and thoughtful, though evasive about the purpose of his trip. Their mutual attraction is heightened by the limbo of air travel, but on arrival, they’re separated. With just minutes to get to the wedding, Hadley—resentful, anxious, missing Oliver and above all jet-lagged—makes her way to the church and the father she’s avoided seeing for a year. Narrative hooks and meet-cute often seem designed to distract from less-than-compelling content. Here, the opposite pertains. Its one-day time frame and “what are the odds?” conceit bookend a closely observed, ultimately moving tale of love, family and otherwise.
Yes, many teens face more compelling problems than those of a smart, attractive daughter of affluent and loving, if estranged, parents; but Smith’s acute insights make Hadley’s heartache and loss as real as the magical unfurling of new love. (Fiction. 12 & up)