three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
52-May-June-2011
user_rating: 
0

A-I Think I Love YouAllison Pearson is a staff writer for London's Daily Telegraph. In 2002, she won the hearts of working mothers with the publication of her first novel, I Don't Know How She Does It.

The Story: Like every other 13-year-old girl in her small, 1970s Welsh hometown, Petra Williams is wildly in love with teen superstar David Cassidy, of The Partridge Family fame. When she isn't practicing the cello or trying to fit in with the popular crowd at school, Petra fills out quizzes in the Essential David Cassidy Magazine, hoping to win a meeting with her idol. Little does she know that the entire fan magazine is ghostwritten by Bill Flinn, a recent college graduate who dreams of making it big as a rock music journalist. Many years later, Petra finds an old letter among her mother's effects informing her that she had won the contest, which sets off a series of unexpected, life-changing events.
Knopf. 336 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 9780099468592

Fort Worth Star-Telegram 4 of 5 Stars
"Part I of this book rings so true with young teen angst that I almost wondered if my face might break out reading it." Catherine Mallette

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Though we know after two dozen pages or so exactly where this novel is headed, Ms. Pearson writes with such humor and affection for her characters that we're perfectly happy to sit back and see how she steers her people toward that happy ending. ... [A] groovy little novel whose charms easily erase any objections the reader might have to the prepackaged and heavily borrowed plot." Michiko Kakutani

Oregonian 4 of 5 Stars
"On the face of it, I Think I Love You is a witty, universal story of navigating first love--and if you read it for that reason alone, you won't be disappointed. ... On a deeper level, though, Pearson shrewdly uses the ‘anonymous girl/unattainable boy' construct as a means to look more closely at women's relationships: with their mothers, their children, their partners and themselves." Christine Selk

Wall Street Journal 3 of 5 Stars
"I Think I Love You will have special resonance for baby boomers who experienced the early 1970s as young teens. ... But Ms. Pearson's empathetic portrait of Petra transcends the era, as does Petra's tender recollection of her first, unobtainable love." Clare McHugh

Boston Globe 2.5 of 5 Stars
"[W]hile Pearson does capture the heady intensity of a teenage crush, the rest of the book is a mishmash of adolescent angst, young-adult disillusionment, and midlife crises. It's got some poignant moments, but you may find yourself skimming through much of the book to find them." Lylah M. Alphonse

Kansas City Star 2.5 of 5 Stars
"[A] promising novel stalls in the non-nutritive territory of chick lit." Jeffrey Ann Goudie

Critical Summary

It comes as no surprise that Allison Pearson once counted herself among David Cassidy's biggest fans. Her depiction of a starstruck teenage girl is so vivid, and agonizing, that one has to wonder if Pearson used her old diaries as reference material. Though several critics found the second half of the novel hampered by a slow narrative and a predictable ending, most couldn't help enjoying the story of a young, earnest, and painfully adolescent Petra. It's not without flaws, but I Think I Love You will likely be received as "an entertaining, thoughtful story that women of any age can relate to" (Oregonian).

Also by the Author

I Don't Know How She Does It (2002): Kate Reddy is a married hedge fund manager with two children. Working mothers will identity with her and the narration: "The women in the offices of [Kate's firm] don't tend to display pictures of their kids. The higher they go up the ladder, the fewer the photographs. If a man has pictures of kids on his desk, it enhances his humanity; if a woman has them it decreases hers. Why? Because he's not supposed to be home with the children; she is."