The questions, discussion topics, and reading list that follow are intended to enhance your reading group’s discussion of I Think I Love You,
Allison Pearson’s eagerly awaited follow-up to I Don’t Know How She Does It.
“Pearson writes with such humor and affection for her characters. . . . Combines effervescence with earnestness, a finely tuned sense of absurdity with nostalgia, satiric wit with genuine warmth.” —The New York Times
The new novel from the bestselling author of I Don’t Know How She Does It
takes us on an unforgettable journey into first love, and—with the emotional intensity and penetrating wit that have made her beloved among readers all over the world—reminds us of how the ardor of our youth can ignite our adult lives.
Wales, 1974. Petra and Sharon, two thirteen-year-old girls, are obsessed with David Cassidy. His fan magazine is their Bible, and some days his letters are the only things that keep them going as they struggle through the humiliating daily rituals of adolescence—confronting their bewildering new bodies, fighting with mothers who don’t understand them at all. Together they tackle the Ultimate David Cassidy Quiz, a contest whose winners will be flown to America to meet Cassidy in person.
London, 1998. Petra is pushing forty, on the brink of divorce, and fighting with her own thirteen-year-old daughter when she discovers a dusty letter in her mother’s closet declaring her the winner of the contest she and Sharon had labored over with such hope and determination. More than twenty years later, twenty pounds heavier, bruised by grief and the disappointments of middle age, Petra reunites with Sharon for an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas to meet their teen idol at last, and finds her life utterly transformed.
Funny, moving, full of beautiful observations about the awakenings of both youth and middle age, Allison Pearson’s long-awaited new novel will speak across generations to mothers and daughters and women of all ages.
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. What do you think this novel is about—love, illusion, friendship?
2. On page 26, Zelda says to Bill, “Fantasy is an important part of growing up.” How does this prove true for Petra? And for Bill?
3. Why does the author include articles from The Essential David Cassidy Magazine? What point is Pearson making?
4. “Honestly, it’s amazing the things you can know about someone you don’t know” (page 39). Bill knows facts about David Cassidy because it’s his job. Why do the girls study David so closely?
5. The girls lie to each other out of adolescent fear. Why does Bill lie to Ruth?
6. “You chose the kind of friends you wanted because you hoped you could be like them and not like you.” Reread the last paragraph on page 161. How does it compare to Carrie’s thoughts on friendship on page 235?
7. What does Petra learn about her friends at White City? What does she learn from her mother’s response?
8. Discuss the pair of epigraphs on the opening page of Part Two, page 197. What impression do you get from their juxtaposition?
9. On page 232, Petra thinks about hiraeth, the yearning for home. How does this relate to what ultimately happens with Sharon? With Bill?
10. What has Petra learned about motherhood from her own mother? In what ways is she like Greta?
11. How does Sharon help Petra get over Marcus?
12. “Never underestimate the wish not to know,” Bill says to Petra on page 277. What does he mean? How does this apply to both Bill and Petra?
13. What is the significance of Petra’s work with Ashley, the Girl That Nobody Loves? How does music heal Petra?
14. What did Bill get out of “being” David Cassidy? How did it benefit him, and how did it harm him?
15. On page 330, Sharon likens her faith in The Essential David Cassidy Magazine to belief in the Bible. What does she mean? Were the girls choosing to believe?
16. Why does Petra take Bill’s revelation about his work as a betrayal? Why doesn’t Sharon?
17. On page 359, Petra realizes her feelings about Greta have changed. What brings about this shift?
18. Why doesn’t Pearson take us inside the women’s meeting with David?
19. How does Pearson’s afterword affect your feelings toward the novel as a whole?
(For a complete list of available reading group guides, and to sign up for the Reading Group Center enewsletter, visit www.readinggroupcenter.com)
About this Author
Allison Pearson, an award-winning journalist and author, is a staff writer for the London Daily Telegraph.
Her first novel, I Don’t Know How She Does It,
became an international bestseller and was translated into thirty-two languages. She is a patron of Camfed, a charity that supports the education of thousands of African girls. Pearson lives in Cambridge, England, with her husband and their two children.
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by Patti Smith.