Childhood Obsessions by Laura Raphael

When I was a child/young adult, I was obsessed with ________________.

1. Horses.
2. Duran Duran.
3. Model airplanes.
4. American Girl dolls.

No matter your answer (and some of these may, or may not, have been my own girlhood obsessions), most of us outgrow what once kept us rapt for long summer afternoon hours, whether ranking horse breeds from least to most favorite or wondering whether Simon LeBon would ever break up with his latest supermodel girlfriend. (Okay, so it was Duran Duran.) Twenty or 30 years later, we’ll hear a snippet of a song or flip through a magazine and it will all come tumbling back… we are once again our 9-, 11-, or 15-year-old selves, completely engulfed in our beloved whatever.

In her novel I Think I Love You, Allison Pearson perfectly captures that madness of youth – in this case, an early teen crush on the singer David Cassidy.

We meet two incarnations of Petra – the 13-year-old obsessed Cassidy fan in 1974, who shared her obsession with best friend Sharon, and the pushing-40 middle-aged mother on the brink of divorce in 1998. The discovery of an old magazine contest – “The Ultimate David Cassidy Fan Quiz” – brings Petra and Sharon from England to Las Vegas to finally meet David Cassidy.

The plot is engaging (you won’t believe how much you’ll care about that trip to Las Vegas) and the characters are charming and memorable, but what resonated most with me was the emotional intensity that Petra and Sharon felt as girls… and how a crush on David Cassidy, of all things, ushered them into adulthood.