Petra is in love. The object of her affection is handsome, all-American, wealthy and talented. He is distant but still manages to always be there for her. Every girl she knows loves him. He is David Cassidy, 1970s pop star and icon. Petra is 13, and she has devoted her life to knowing everything about David. She and her friend Sharon pore over every issue of the “Essential David Cassidy” fan magazine. Then two big events happen at once: David announces he will make his final world tour before retiring, and one of those stops will be in London, a train ride away from her small town in Wales. And to commemorate this seminal event, the magazine crafts the ultimate David Cassidy quiz, the winner of which will get a trip to California to meet David on the set of “The Partridge Family.”
Unfortunately, Petra still has to deal with all the usual issues of teen life: a mother who doesn’t understand her devotion to a pop star (she looks down her nose at any common entertainment that isn’t true art and only supports Petra’s cello playing) and a group of friends who are generally there for her but who are led by that kind of girl everyone knew at that age: a beautiful, well-dressed, self-possessed “mean girl” who controls the actions of all around her. As she and Sharon plan their trip to the big city to see the man of their dreams in person (squeal!), they also work meticulously on making sure they can answer every question on the “ultimate quiz” correctly so they can win that trip.
Naturally, things don’t go entirely as planned, and there are some disappointments and setbacks, one of which Petra doesn’t even know about until 25 years later, when she’s a divorcing mother of a 13-year-old daughter of her own and her mother dies. She discovers a secret her mother kept from her, and she finds herself on her way to meet David Cassidy as he performs a concert in Las Vegas. Her childhood crush surprisingly leads her to some unexpected happiness as a 38-year-old woman supposedly too old for those kinds of things.
The book also focuses on the story of Bill, a writer for the Essential David Cassidy magazine in London. Fresh out of college holding what’s turned out to be a useless degree in literature, he finds himself having to write for the magazine in the voice of David Cassidy, a fact that chagrins him and would kill his girlfriend if she knew (what she does think is that he’s a journalist writing for a rock magazine). He crafts the ultimate quiz on which the young Petra and Sharon work so hard to answer (and hope to win), and he attends the fateful concert that they also attend. Later on, he and Petra will cross paths and both have cause to reflect on their earlier years and particular relationships to David.
I Think I Love You is often entertaining and captures well what it’s like to be a young teen girl, with insecurities and crushes and shifting friendship dynamics. I expected the book to focus most on Petra as an adult, but it evenly splits the emphasis between her time as a 13-year-old and as a woman facing divorce and single motherhood. I also didn’t expect the book to spend so much time on Bill’s point of view, but although it felt tiresome at times, it did turn out to be significant. Overall, a fairly fun book to read, especially if the reader ever loved a pop star.
Rated: High, for about 10 uses of strong language, frequent vain references to Deity, other fairly frequent uses of moderate and mild language, and some vulgar sexual references, mainly to body parts. Most of that was within the context of teen girls’ thoughts and impressions as they’re starting to think about sex and their own and boys’ anatomy.