While her first novel, I Don’t Know How She Does It (Knopf, 2002), is currently being made into a movie starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Allison Pearson tackles the confusing and competitive undercurrents of teenage girl friendships in I Think I Love You. Add a pop idol such as David Cassidy, and readers have an unwitting lightning rod to fuel jealousy and hysteria to boot.
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Despite the title, the book isn’t really about David Cassidy, is it?
It’s a great deal about female friendships and how they transform. When I shared the topic of the book, many of my female friends said they wouldn’t go back to being 13 years old if they could. You feel so precarious at that age.
Girls can be agonizing to each other—but sometimes we simply perceive it that way, don’t we?
One vivid memory I have is of my best friend suddenly finding a new best friend. I walked into the class where we were having our cooker lesson and my place was taken by a new girl. I recall feeling ORPHANED with distress. Still, after all these years, one of the great betrayals! I don’t remember any actually physical fights—girls tend to go in for mental cruelty!
There’s a parallel story with the character of Bill, the writer who pens all of the David Cassidy information for the teen magazine. He seems lonely and embarrassed by what he does.
I think of Bill as a 20-something who very much wants to be a writer, he very much wants to be in that world. And I also think he becomes fascinated with the intrigue and the power of “being” a teen idol. I like to have a mixture of comedy and melancholy in my books—Bill was a way of introducing of comic perspective.
Why did Petra’s mom hide the notification letter?
I think she was afraid of losing her power over her daughter. I kept thinking I wanted Petra to go back into her old world of David Cassidy but what was going to trigger it? The betrayal by her mother allowed her the courage to meet her younger self halfway and move on.
One of my favorite parts is the description of the girls finally getting to see David Cassidy in concert. Were you able to see him?
I was. I have a friend who has at least 30-years worth of magazines, and from that library, I was able to actually piece together that concert, where the crowd was and what happened. That chapter is a documentary record of what happened. Because someone lost their life at that concert, I felt it was important to be factual.
Your first book is currently being made into a movie, and you’ve been asked to write a musical for I Think I Love You—that seems perfect.
Music has that instant power to take you back, even just an opening bar. I will admit some of the Cassidy songs were not among the great arias of the world, but I wish the book could have included buttons you could push to hear the music. I have included in the musical a fight between Osmonds fans and Cassidy fans which is quite lovely.
The book ends with you interviewing David Cassidy. How did that come about?
I was offered the interview by coincidence. I thought to myself, “This could be fantastic or it could go the other way.” He was very honest, and I appreciated that. It comes down to the fact that the person we carry in our heads and in our hearts isn’t the same as the actual individual. That interview reflects back the story in the book, I think, on a hugely potent topic—it’s the way some of us measure out our lives. You know how old someone is when they say they are a David Cassidy fan or a Bobby Sherman fan, and when people like that pass on, they take a part of their fans with them.
I Think I Love You
Knopf / Feb. 8, 2011 / 9781400042357 / $24.95