“I Think I Love You” by Allison Pearson

I saw the spine of I Think I Love You, and had to pick it up; that was a favorite song from my girlhood and had a renaissance in college when my roommates and I would get up on a coffee table and sing it with improvised microphones at the top of our lungs. I think we all also had it played at our weddings; I have a photo in my wedding album of us dancing and singing to it.

After I picked it up I saw it was by Allison Pearson, whose I Don’t Know How She Does It I enjoyed and it helped me make the decision to resign my corporate job and stay home with my then 9mo son Drake. The description of I Think I Love You talked about teen idols, girls’ friendships, women’s friendship, the difficulties of middle age, all of which sounded right in my wheelhouse. The back blurbs were starred reviews from PW and Kirkus. I charmed a double discount from the guy behind the desk, and walked out with it, which was going to happen in any case.

The book centers on Petra, a 13 year old Welsh girl in 1974 hopelessly in love with David Cassidy. She holds a precarious place in a clique of girls, and a burgeoning best-friendship with Sharon. Petra’s chapters alternate, though, with Bill, a college-grad know-it-all who ghost writes an English David Cassidy fan magazine. As much as it shames him, he finds he is very good at his job, while he tells his girlfriend he’s a rock journalist, bending the truth more than a bit.

Bill stood and watched beside the other journalists, most of them men, none of them Cassidy fans; not in public, at any rate. How surprising it was, then, to see their lips move in sync to half the songs, as if they had been versed in his collected works by the power of hypnotic suggestion. Maybe they couldn’t help it; maybe they just had the radio on all day, in the kitchen at home, beside the draining board, and then on a shelf at the office, next to an open window. Cassidy songs would come and go, through an average radio day, and over the weeks they would seep into your nervous system, whether you wanted them there or not, and you would find yourself breaking out into a song, no more able to prevent it than you would a violent rash. (145)

The book moved from the 70’s to the 90’s, and does a very good psychological portrait of teenage fandom. Both the dust jacket and the binding are a blinding hot pink, so you have to embrace that you’re reading chicklit; I can’t really imagine a guy reading this book. It is by a woman, about girls and women, and really for girls and women and the different stages of life and love that many of us go through.

I was born a little late for the David Cassidy craze. My first pop crush was Donny Osmond, and my second was David’s younger half-brother, Shaun. But the details of pop-star worship are dead on, even with different pop stars, and girls from a different country than mine. If you ever had a crush on a pop star or ever suffered the cruelty of other girls, then I think you’ll find much to identify with and appreciate here.

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