Guest Reviewer: Shannon Boyce
Full Title: I Think I Love You: A Novel
Author: Allison Pearson
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (2010)
Number of Pages: 315
How long it took me to read: 1 week
Where I bought this book: I bought the book after reading an interview with the author in the newspaper.
Like a Moth to a Flame
I awoke one morning to the entertainment section of the local newspaper open on my kitchen table. It was an interview with the author of I Think I Love You. My father, knowing of my love for David Cassidy, had left it out for me to read. Upon learning the premise of this book, my initial thought was, “How did I not write this?” A book about being a fan of David Cassidy is more representative of my life than most. This alone made the novel a natural addition to my bookshelf.
I propose that the top 5 quotes from this book are:
5. “Once he meant the world to her. And she had won the opportunity to tell him so. That moment was lost forever, like a million other moments in a human life.” (p.185)
4. “She and Bill were like divers now, groping through the deep; each waving a hand in the dark, hoping to brush against the other. One boy with a shoe, and one girl without: it could be a scene from a fairy tale.” (p.309)
3. “And yet. First love is the deepest. You don’t just fall in love, you capsize.” (p.231)
2. “The way that David kept you dangling and waited a whole stomach-flipping beat before slipping in that final “But.” And his voice just melted that word.” (p.34)
…and my pick for the No.1 quote is…
1. “In one corner, in the most romantic lettering I’d ever seen, she had put something that caused a stab to my heart.
“I was the only one who knew what it cost her to write it.” (p.158)
Conversation with the Reader
While I read, I write, and as I write, I read. Here’s some of what I wrote while I read this book:
“I’m immediately struck by the opening scenes. With the flick of a switch, both literally and symbolically, I’m transported to 1970s Wales. Suddenly, I’m in thirteen-year-old Petra’s world, immersed in adolescence…bursting with dreams, desires, aspirations, and longing. I’ve been this thirteen-year-old girl before—obsessing over a bright-eyed pop star, and desperately wanting to fit in. Petra’s superficial interactions with friends in the early chapters are compelling and relatable. She’s constantly on the outside of her group of friends, hanging on to any hope of real friendship welcoming her into their inner circle. That need for peer acceptance is one of the many ways young Petra reflects the hardest parts of growing up. I am also particularly struck by the writing style so far. The prose is full of imagery, is deeply emotional, and combines an alarming passion along with the innocence of childhood.”
“It’s impossible to put this book down. I find myself staying up later than I should, ignoring my cell phone, and generally disappearing from the world as I turn these pages. It’s caused me to do a lot of reflecting upon my own youthful obsessions—the ones that defined my adolescence. The premise of a pop star being something like a starter boyfriend, easing young girls into maturity, is a thrilling observation. The emotions Petra and Sharon go through—the ups and downs, the turmoil, and the dream of David Cassidy—is so relatable. I had my own version of this experience, and today, young girls are having their own version of this experience. Pearson has really captured the essence of a young woman growing up.”
“The sub-plot with Bill and the staff at The Essential David Cassidy Magazine adds an interesting adult perspective to the phenomenon of a teen star. It adds great contrast to Petra’s limited scope and all-consuming obsession. I found the transformation of Bill’s character to be subtle and effective. The moment when he defends David Cassidy to his girlfriend, Ruth, is a wonderful scene. It moves his character away from the cynical and self-loathing persona he’s embodied up until that point. However, I am finding the chapters about Bill’s life less engaging. They’re not uninteresting, and are still well written, but they lack that emotional grip that Petra’s world seems to have over me.”
“The movement from past to present in part two of the book happens at exactly the right moment. As an adult, Petra has retained many of the qualities she possessed in part one. These traits didn’t stop being a part of her after adolescence; they deepened. She’s still eager to please; she’s still insecure. At this point in the novel, life’s sadder moments have touched her. I’m given a heartbreaking look at what has become of the young girl I related to so strongly in part one. For me, the most compelling scene of part two so far is when Petra re-discovers David Cassidy. With nothing else to cling to, she rekindles her relationship with David. This is her safe place when life is uncertain. I understand that. Growing up, I used music and the fantasy of a teen idol to distract myself from my insecurities. By pouring myself into these obsessions, much like Petra, I discovered my own safe place.”
“I love the way the story ties everything together so perfectly. From the beginning, I’ve followed Petra and Bill’s relationships with David Cassidy. In the later chapters, I witness Petra’s budding relationship with Bill. The way Pearson ties the two together—like with the shoe incident, but also in small, subtle ways—brings everything full circle.
“There is a beautifully hopeful tone at the end of this book. Petra’s ‘giving away’ of David to her friend Sharon signals her openness towards a real and fulfilling relationship with Bill. Like any good chic-lit novel, at the end of the story, there is hope, beauty, and the idea that destiny can link people together. What started with a pop star, ended with true love. This may not be your conventional love story, but that only makes it better.”