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 best seller 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 with her husband and their two children.
1. What do you think this novel is about--love, illusion,
2. On page 21, Zelda says to Bill, "Fantasy is an important part
of growing up." How does this prove true for Petra? And for
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 31). 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 136. How does it compare to Carrie's thoughts on friendship
at the top of page 200?
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 167. What impression do you get from their
9. On page 197, 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 235. 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 280, 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 304, 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
19. How does Pearson's afterword affect your feelings toward the
novel as a whole?