I Think I Love you – Allison Pearson

13-year-old Petra is in love with David Cassidy, an obsession she shares with her best friends.  The year is 1974, and Cassidy is the creation of a brilliant marketing campaign that preys on the hearts of teenage girls.

Fast forward 25 years.  Petra, separated from a cheating husband and mourning the loss of her mother, discovers a letter her mother had intercepted years before informing Petra she had won the Ultimate David Cassidy Quiz.  Her prize: a trip to meet the star in California. When a magazine picks up the story of this legendary missed opportunity, she’s off to Las Vegas for a belated meeting.

Anyone soothed by nostalgia or harboring a teen crush will love this story, but it travels much deeper than a few decades back in time.  Contrasted against Petra’s unhappy present, much thought is given to the experience of growing older, of watching your heartthrob age and the emotions that drive the hysteria that follows teen idols of every generation.

“Petra thinks of all the women like her…who are looking back on their thirteen-year-old selves, on the pressure of all that yearning.  Wanting to be loved so badly.  That was the great engine of life, revving up back then, if only they’d known it.”  

We come to learn much about our 13-year-old selves and even about our idols that can only be revealed with the passage of decades.  As Cassidy (Pearson’s interview with him is included in the book) notes “It’s ALL sexual, but because it’s very naive, extraordinarily romantic and it deals with fantasy, it’s sex before it becomes overtly sexual…intellectually now I see it, but I couldn’t see it then.”

I Think I Love You is funny, sweet, sad and fascinatingly accurate.  I didn’t enter any contests but I loved my teen crush with ferocity, kissed his posters and carried his picture with me everywhere.  Never got to meet him though…bummer!

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