Last spring, the music therapy community was all abuzz with the release of two major forms of media–a book and a movie–that both featured music therapy. The book and movie both received wonderful reviews and, from my perspective, highlighted music therapy in an accurate, positive way.
But did you hear about the second book?
Its true! A second book!
Allison Pearson, the same author who wrote the 2002 best-seller-now-turned-into-a-movie-with-Sarah-Jessica-Parker called I Don’t Know How She Does It, published the book I Think I Love You this past February.
And just like my Picoult favorite Sing You Home, the main character is a music therapist!
I just finished reading I Think I Love You the other day. How well did it talk about music therapy? Keep reading to find out…
At its core, Pearsons novel is a love story–a romantic comedy if turned into a movie. The first half of the book follows the main characters as preteens and young adults. Petra is a 13-year-old girl who both live in Wales, is a talented cellist, and loooooves David Cassidy.
Bill is a new college graduate working at his first job at a magazine called The Essential David Cassidy magazine. Their paths cross not only because of their connection to David Cassidy, but also physically cross at an infamous 1974 London concert during his farewell tour.
The second half of the book takes place 25 years later, with Petra as a soon-to-be-divorced mother, music therapist, and mother to a 13-year-old. Bill, also now conveniently divorced, is a successful magazine editor. Unbeknownst to them, their paths are to cross again because of David Cassidy.
For more details about the plot, this New York Times article offers a splendid review.
How Was It?
In truth, there is very little in this novel about music therapy directly. Pearson outlined one mini case study and gave highlights from a handful of session.
That said, what is there seems accurate and is beautifully written. What was interesting to me was the thought that this may describe more accurately how music therapy is practiced and understood in the UK–a region of practice I know very little about.
What I felt was most poignant was Pearson’s descriptions about how music affects us on an emotional level. There are beautiful, almost stunning and visceral descriptions of how music can touch us. It can be hard to put that into words.
Beyond that, Pearson keeps you caring and interested in the characters. In truth, it’s no surprise where the plot is going. But she makes it such a joy to get there that you dont mind. Pearson takes you through some events quickly, but will take time to pause and show in vivid detail what a character is seeing, feeling, and remembering at that moment.
In short, although I Think I Love You is on the surface about teen idol love, it’s more about emotions and the impact of life experiences. The characters are survivors of one form or another, yet Pearson allows their wit, humanness, and spirit to shine through.
Which I why I can say, without hesitation, that I think I love…I Think I Love You.