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.

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