I Think I Love You

It's 1974 and Petra Williams, the main character in I Think I Love You, Allison Pearson's sharp and fizzy second novel, is madly in love with David Cassidy. Never mind that she's 13, lives in South Wales and is one of 30 million girls who worship the Bambi-eyed pop god. Petra never doubts she's the one David's been waiting for. She devours fan mags, memorizes David Cassidy facts, and sleeps on her back "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 and sympathetic heart to Petra's unbearable yearnings. She uses this rite of tweenage passage to explore the near-nuclear force of first love, as well as the Darwinian nightmare against which it's so often set – the cliques and corridors of school. Petra, speaking in first person, is often laugh-out-loud funny. Carol, the sexually advanced girl in the group, has breasts that "developed overnight as though she'd got fed up of waiting and used a bike pump," and which she handles "like they were hamsters, even getting them out occasionally and petting them."

 

Interspersed with Petra's tale is that of Bill Finn. A wanna-be rocker, Bill is forced to eke out a living ghost-writing David Cassidy letters for a glossy fanmag. Petra and Bill's paths cross, and later, fueled by a betrayal, their stories collide.  You can hear it, lurking like a schoolyard taunt – chick lit. But Pearson's wit and skill, combined with a genuine love for the girls here, elevate I Think I Love You into a grand story.

April 17: "In less than three years, both GM and Chrysler would be bankrupt, and a resurgent Ford would wow Wall Street..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.