A light book that might appeal more to those that remember their teen crushes, I didn’t like the first part at all, and found the second half enjoyable but not memorable.
Description via Random House:
Petra and Sharon, two thirteen-year-old girls, are both desperately in love with a world-famous pop star. Together they pore over his photos, read his fan club letters, and even enter a contest whose winners will meet him in person.
Twenty years later, Petra is pushing forty, on the brink of divorce, and fighting with her own thirteen-year-old daughter when she is given the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to meet the teen idol she loved so long ago. A moving tale of friendship and celebrity, I Think I Love You perfectly captures the intensity of first love—a love that never entirely goes away.
This book did not start out well for me. If I hadn’t been reading it for book club, I would abandoned it somewhere around a third of the way in
The first half of the book takes place when Petra and her friends are young teens, obsessed with David Cassidy, and having the sort of problems that girls in books (and real life) often seem to have– bullying, friendship issues, parental problems…
Since the David Cassidy connection didn’t speak to me, it just felt like a book I’d read before, with characters that I didn’t particularly want to spend time with.
I think this is a book where listening to the audio really got in the way for me.
First, the narrator’s voice was not that of a young teen (the Petra sections were first person), which isn’t a showstopper, but it didn’t help, either.
Second, the book moves between Petra’s story, that of Bill (a young journalist writing for the David Cassidy magazine that Petra and her friends obsess over), and excerpts from the David Cassidy magazine. Looking at the printed book, I think this would have broken up the experience more– I would have felt the “Bill” sections gave me more of a break if I hadn’t still been hearing Petra’s voice. The magazine excerpts had a completely different look, which also would have served as a chance to take a breath, away from Petra and her friends.
I don’t think I would have loved this first part in print, but I also don’t think I would have been longing to stop reading.
Luckily, the second half worked much better for me. I found it a pleasant enough read, and the narrator’s voice fit the adult Petra much better (although since it is no longer first person, it isn’t such an issue).
I enjoyed Petra’s escape from her life as she gets a chance to meet her childhood crush, reconnects with her childhood friend, and gets a chance to move on from her more recent hurts in her life.
Bill was actually my favorite character in both halves of the book, but even he isn’t particularly memorable.
I’m glad it improved for me, but it still won’t be one of my favorite books of the year.
Narrator: Sian Thomas has a very pleasant voice, and did a good job with the second section of the book, but I wish she’d been able to do different voices for the different characters. Her voice was not a match for young Petra, and since those sections were first person, I do think that was needed there.
Audio Production: I don’t remember any actual problems, but I think this is a book that cried out for multiple narrators– one for the young Petra chapters, one for the Bill chapters, and one for the adult Petra chapters.
Print vs. Audio: I would have enjoyed this much more in print, I think, for the reasons outlined in my review.
Book Club Notes
I read I Think I Love You with one of my book clubs. When I was about a third of the way in, I sent out mail about meeting logistics, and when no one had replied after a few hours, I found myself hoping no one would, so that I could just abandon the book. No such luck, although at least the book improved for me.
We had a decent discussion around the book, although not so much about the book itself.
I don’t think anyone at the meeting really loved the book, and the only one the seemed to like it was only about a third of the way in. Several people were OK with it, with at least one that disliked it even more than I did (she didn’t feel the second part was a significant improvement over the first).
People did like the look into the music world (or at least the music journalism world).
The book got us discussing our teen crushes, if we had them, and how they differed between those of us of different ages (we cover about a 10 year span), and the differences we see between the celebrity crushes of our childhoods and those today (many of us in the group have 13 year old children).
It still wouldn’t be a top book club pick for me, but it didn’t go as badly as I had been afraid it would.