I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
It’s 1974 and Petra and her friends are all "in love" with singer David Cassidy. Petra is the ultimate Cassidy fan, making collages of pictures of the singer, subscribing to his fan magazine and knowing all there is to know about David. Petra hopes that someday all this knowledge may come in useful should she ever meet David and the two fall hopelessly in love.
One of the biggest sources of Petra’s knowledge is a David Cassidy fan magazine. And while the letters from fans appear to be responded to by Cassidy, it’s really Bill writing the responses. He’s a college graduate, trying to break into the rock and roll journalism scene whose taken a detour to the Cassidy magazine to pay the bills.
Bill is tasked with coming up with a Cassidy questionnaire contest. The prize: a trip to L.A. to visit the set of the Partridge Family. And of all the people out there, Petra is most suited to win.
The first half of "I Think I Love You" is a coming of age story about Petra and her friends. The story contrasts Petra’s love and obsessiveness about Cassidy with Bill’s reaction to his job. The two both know more about Cassidy than most, but seeing how each reacts to having such a fount of knowledge is intriguing. (Bill hides what he does from his girlfriend for fear of her thinking less of him.)
Were it not for the hook of the Cassidy obsession, "I Think I Love You" might not be as entertaining as it is. Petra’s relationship with her friends and family is intriguing, especially given that her mother doesn’t really understand or support Petra’s interest in the pop music star.
The second half of the story finds Petra in 1998, facing her mother’s funeral and her husband walking out on her. Going through her mother’s things she finds out that she actually won the contest in 1974 but that her mother hid this from her. Petra must come to terms with that as well as her own relationship with her mother and her husband.
As I said before, without the Cassidy hook, this novel wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining as it is. Anyone who’s ever had a youthful obsession with something or someone will identify with young Petra. And those who have looked back on our youthful loves will identify with the older Petra of the second half of the book.