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. It is now a major motion picture, adapted by Aline Brosh McKenna and starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Her most recent novel, I Think I Love You, is set to become a stage musical. Allison has given inspirational speeches around the world on women’s issues and she can be contacted via her website www.allisonpearson.co.uk. She is a patron of Camfed, a charity that supports the education of more than a million African girls (www.camfed.org). Pearson lives in Cambridge with her husband and their two children.
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?
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