Friday, February 10, 2012

Not Such a Light Read After All

For reputation's sake, I must say, here at the beginning, that I wasn't a David Cassidy fan--or a Partridge Family fan, although I will admit to watching the show and to knowing enough of the songs and lyrics to be able to pass in some circles.

When someone recommended this book, I think I recall her calling it a "guilty pleasure" or maybe a "light read." Being something of a book snob, I pick and choose carefully, knowing that any book I read means one I will never get to read down the line. Something about the description of this one, however, prompted me to take that time, and I am glad I did.

The narrative hook of the story, revealed early, occurs when a grown woman from Wales discovers, while going through her late mother's closet, that she had actually won the "Meet David Cassidy" contest when she was thirteen--a trip to Los Angeles with a friend. But her mother never told her. Ouch.

Pearson takes the reader back to the angst-filled early teen years (I know, it's a redunancy) when the only thing she wants more than to meet--or perhaps marry--David Cassidy is to feel sure she belongs, that her friends really are friends. The daughter of a Welsh working class father and a strict, disappointed German mother, Petra is a gifted cellist--invited to play for Princess Margaret--who would chuck her talent if it meant possibly being left out.

She and her closest friend Sharon spend hours studying The Essential David Cassidy magazine as if they were prepping for the MCATs, as well as all the other mags appealing to girls--those that point out their flaws and how to camoflage them--then prints an article on how to have a positive self-image, the irony of which, Petra observes, they didn't realize until they were much older.

In a parallel story line, one rarely mentioned in reviews but just as clever, twenty-four-year-old Bill lands his first journalism job writing for The Essential David Cassidy, not just feature articles, but he actually ghost writes the letters from Cassidy to his female fans. (He tells his girlfriend he's a rock journalist, suggesting he's interviewing Led Zepellin and the Stones, but writing under a pen name.)

Moving from Petra's (and Bill's) younger years to their full adulthood, Pearson brings the two together, when Petra, learning of her mother's deceit, calls the publisher's office (still home to a range of popular magazines) to demand her prize. For anyone interested in life's fairness, readers also learn the fates of the other girls in Petra and Sharon's circle of young friends.

As an added bonus, the author also includes her interview with the now-middle-aged Cassidy, a Vegas performer, not fully at peace with her hearthrob teen idol years.

In my odd mix of reading, I sometimes finish a book without thinking of anyone in particular who might enjoy reading it as well. As I read I Think I Love You, I found myself calling or email friends and sisters close to my age before I'd even finished the book.

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