Release Date: January 2, 2012
Source: Inkwood Books
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 18B. 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.
This book honestly blew me away. Between the stunning characterization, sweet storyline, and unexpected twists, I was kept turning the pages far beyond when I should have been asleep. This is that one book that you’re looking for and you crave, that book that seems to have everything you’re looking for.Students of young adult literature classes at online universities also recommend this book.
When I first heard about this book, I thought it’d be good. Good, but not special. I’m happy to say that it was way beyond my expectations.
Hadley was such an endearing protagonist. She reacted very realistically for somebody her age, but seemed wise far beyond her years. She knew how to appreciate an opportunity, and she was very practical, but she had a side of whimsical. She could be fun, but also serious. She was balanced.
Although I usually enjoy my MC to be the tiniest bit flawed, for this book it worked. There was a sadness stirring within Hadley because of her father’s wedding and how her family problems have affected her, but she is trying to reach the sun and be happy again.
This book played with the question of how the slightest things affect others. Hadley missed her flight by FOUR MINUTES and that threw a wrench into her carefully planned itinerary. The stress of being late to her father’s wedding is weighing on her mind, but with a strange sense of relief that she wouldn’t have to face the awkwardness and discomfort of being an intruder on her own father’s life.
Hadley didn’t think that four minutes could change her life. Thoughts keep running through her head like was it when I went back to get the book? Would I still have been late if…? Hadley, the girl who is never late.
In a way, she’s almost relieved that she doesn’t have to worry about her father’s wedding. She doesn’t have to worry about her mother being upset, or watch her world slowly fade while feeling like a stranger to her father. She doesn’t think that anything will change.
Then Hadley meets the boy sitting next to her. Oliver, a British boy going home to see his parents after college, offers to help her with her bags. First the bags, and then they grab a bite to eat. And then they sit next to each other on the plane. When Hadley’s plane ride is finished, she feels like she’s known him longer than anybody else. She feels like he understands her more than anybody else.
So when they arrive, what is she going to do? Will she ever see him after her father’s wedding? And how will her life change after this? This soft contemporary novel explores the fragility of possibilities, the strength of family, and the overwhelming possibilities of first love.
The family aspect of the book was very developed, which I loved. I personally have been raised with a very strong sense of family, and a trend in YA fiction seems to be the parents neglecting their children. I enjoy it more when there’s more of a wholesome sense of family. It has to be balanced, the family and the romance. It makes it more lifelike to me.
Some people read the synopsis of this book at first and go, “but that isn’t lifelike at all. You can’t fall in love in twenty-four hours,” but I say that that’s exactly what the book is playing with. What if it is entirely possible? What if you can fall in love immediately, and everybody has one soulmate out there that they’ll know about immediately. This book really plays with the concepts and tries to make you believe that it is possible. It may work; it may not, but no matter what, this book makes you feel hopeful.
This book was largely hinged on possibilities. Possibilities are what make life amazing. They’re what truly makes life worth living. There were so many possibilities woven throughout the book, and there was the constant thread of how they affected each other. Missing her plane really sparked a chain reaction in Hadley and caused so many things to happen.
And yet while this book is about family, the main focus is on the intense and beautiful romance. It was everything that a girl dreams of in this book. Oliver was the boy who always seems to haunt your dreams.
Oliver. There are so many words to describe him, but his name is the only one that seems to cover all of him. He seemed like the nice guy who isn’t afraid to be both loud and quiet. He put others before himself when he felt down. He helped Hadley to distract himself. He was the most charming person that you could ever even dream about, and it was like he and Hadley were from opposites of the spectrum. He was going home. He was sweet, funny, and a perfect gentleman. Sometimes it’s nice to have the girl end up with the nice guy. There was that easy romance that almost seemed like a close friendship, with moments of intensity scattered throughout the book.
Hadley herself seemed to be the perfect match for Oliver. Oliver and Hadley’s personalities were similar yet different in certain ways. They were both practical and very down to earth, but they dreamed. They talked about possibilities and secret hopes and wonder. Oliver joked sometimes, and Hadley was the one to hear him. They complemented each other perfectly in all the right ways, and what I think marks a true relationship is helping one another through problems.
As for Hadley and Oliver’s family, Hadley is disappointed by her mother and father. They are both more wrapped up in their own problems, and didn’t see that what they were doing affected her. She wasn’t angry at them, but more sad that they let her down that way. Her mother and father care about her and think that they’re helping her, but they don’t see how deeply their words and actions affect her.
They don’t seem to understand why Hadley is so upset. Her father is marrying another woman, and she doesn’t even feel like she’s part of his life anymore. She is worried about her mother, who loved (and possibly still loves) her father. She doesn’t know what to think about her family.
Of course, since I’m only thirteen, I’ve never experienced love. I want to though. These are the types of books that let me completely indulge, make me feel like I’ve lived a thousand lives like these, and make life what it is. These types of books open for the possibilities of love and laughter and sadness.
Usually I don’t connect as well to books written in third person as the ones in first. This book just captured my attention and I felt such a deep connection to all of the characters. It’s mostly focused on Hadley though, and I felt like I understood her just as well as she understood Oliver.
The writing was just brilliant. Lush description and strong characterization made it unforgettable. I hadn’t read anything by Jennifer before, but after this book, I’m definitely going to be stalking her books! Honestly, she has this writing style that nobody else has. Even if she wrote a book with no plot whatsoever, it would still be five stars because of her fantastic writing. I didn’t notice any flaws and I didn’t get confused at all throughout the book. She kept it clear and understandable, but still painted the scenes for us. She didn’t muddle anything together, but kept everything clean.
We need to have more writers like her. I didn’t lose my place at any part during the book. She just has this way of making you connect with whatever she’s saying, reaching back to your earliest memories to remember a long-forgotten feeling, or thinking of things lost and gained. She definitely knows how to play with the reader’s emotions.
The strongest emotion that I felt was hope. There was hope throughout the book. There was hope that Hadley might make up with her parents, hope that she would like her father’s wife, hope that she might be able to come to terms with everything. There was hope for Oliver. There was hope for their relationship. There was hope that everything might happen and that life might just be worth something.
The plot itself was great. The execution was really well done, and there were some twists throughout the book that completely threw me off what I was thinking. Again, Jennifer is skilled at making the reader think one thing and then leading the plot in a completely different direction. And it worked.
I loved how it was set over twenty-four hours. The instant connection with the stranger, the friendship growing into love, the melancholy parts and the joyful parts all wrapped up into a day. It truly exhibits how quickly things can change, for the worse or for the better. Hadley and Oliver both grew over such a short time period.
The best part of the book for me was probably that it was both imaginative and realistic. It was like a dream, a wonderful dream, but it was firmly rooted in reality. It could happen. It probably has happened before. It’s great to think about this happening, our own Hadleys and Olivers all over the world. Yet we can still dream about it happening to us. It straddles the line in the best ways possible.
There was this constant joke throughout the book about what exactly Oliver was studying. He was doing a program for his college, and he kept changing his answer. I for one was entertained by these. It was such a tiny part of the book, but it lent it a bit of humor and charm.
Also, another little bit of the book was that almost no other books that I can remember reading take place in an airport. It’s strange, but true. This book just played with the setting a bit, and made flying appeal much more than it usually does. Next time I go to the airport, I’m probably going to have to bring this one with me to make it seem more enjoyable.
There are books that you read when you want an intense, darker read and then there are the books that make you feel refreshed and happy. This book was so….I wouldn’t say light exactly, but it had an essence about it that brightened my day. This book made me feel like anything was possible and that everything was there for the taking.
I could go on for hours about this book without even taking a breath. There are so many incredible qualities about this book that I have yet to point out, but I leave y’all two words: read it. Read it and you’ll understand the feeling that it leaves you. You’ll connect to the characters. You’ll understand happiness and sadness, and how it’s possible to have both at the same time.
This book was everything and more.
Recommended for anybody who loves: Like Crazy (movie); What Happened to Goodbye; Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour; etc,.
Possible book club questions:
Do you believe in love at first sight? Why or why not?
How did Oliver’s experiences help Hadley come to terms with her life?
Do you think that this short time period worked for this book? Why or why not?
Compare and contrast Oliver and Hadley’s personality.
What do you think Hadley’s parents could have done differently?