I Think I Love You

By ALISON PEARSON

It’s 1974 and Petra Williams, the main character in I Think I Love You, Allison Pearson’ssharp and fizzy second novel, is madly in love with David Cassidy. Never mindthat she’s 13, lives in South Wales and is one of 30 million girls who worshipthe Bambi-eyed pop god. Petra never doubts she’s the one David’s been waitingfor. She devours fan mags, memorizes David Cassidy facts, and sleeps on herback “so my face was ready to receive a kiss in case he came in the night.”

The author of the best-selling I Don’t Know How She Does It, Pearson brings a canny eye andsympathetic heart to Petra’s unbearable yearnings. She uses this rite oftweenage passage to explore the near-nuclear force of first love, as well asthe Darwinian nightmare against which it’s so often set – the cliques andcorridors of school. Petra, speaking in first person, is often laugh-out-loudfunny. Carol, the sexually advanced girl in the group, has breasts that “developedovernight as though she’d got fed up of waiting and used a bike pump,” andwhich she handles “like they were hamsters, even getting them outoccasionally and petting them.”

Interspersed with Petra’s tale is that of Bill Finn. Awanna-be rocker, Bill is forced to eke out a living ghost-writing David Cassidyletters for a glossy fanmag. Petra and Bill’s paths cross, and later, fueled bya betrayal, their stories collide.  Youcan hear it, lurking like a schoolyard taunt – chick lit. But Pearson’s wit and skill, combined with a genuinelove for the girls here, elevate I ThinkI Love You into a grand story.

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