Mix Tape by Jane Sanderson

My thanks to the publishers, Transworld, who approved me to read Mix Tape via Netgalley. The decision to read was my own, and this review forms my honest opinion.

Blurb

You never forget the one that got away.

Daniel was the first boy to make Alison a mix tape.

But that was years ago and Ali hasn’t thought about him in a very long time. Even if she had, she might not have called him ‘the one that got away’; after all, she’d been the one to run.

Then Dan’s name pops up on her phone, with a link to a song from their shared past.

For two blissful minutes, Alison is no longer an adult in Adelaide with temperamental daughters; she is sixteen in Sheffield, dancing in her skin-tight jeans. She cannot help but respond in kind.

And so begins a new mix tape.

Ali and Dan exchange songs – some new, some old – across oceans and time zones, across a lifetime of different experiences, until one of them breaks the rules and sends a message that will change everything…

Review

I’ve had this sat on my Kindle for quite some time, and I was excited to finally have some time to sit and read it.

When I think of my childhood, I think of music. My Mum loves music and I grew up to the sounds of her youth. There have been many times over the years when I’ve heard a song, have absolutely no clue who the artist is, but yet I know the song word for word. I find music inspiring, often using it as I write, drawing and pulling on emotions remembered and invoked. Mix Tape uses music in fusion with a love story between the two main characters, Ali and Dan. It’s a wonderful concept; a young couple, brought together by their shared love of music and then torn apart, who happen, by chance, to find one another decades later. Separated by continents and oceans, they begin a conversation by way of music; sending one another songs, both classic and more recent, to communicate their emotions.

As I read, I listened to the music. I luxuriated in the music. Some I recognised, some I didn’t – but I now have them all in a playlist in my iTunes account to listen to over and over. There is something so personal about music, the reveal of a song which means something to a person at a particular time can almost be like accessing their inner most thoughts. The use of the music here added a new dimension to the characters and a new dynamic to the story itself.

The story is told through the eyes of both Dan and Ali in a dual timeline; following the growth of their relationship in the late 1970s, picking up again in more recent times as they reconnect. As the story continues we begin to learn just what went wrong all those years before. My husband, who has taken to rather annoyingly reading over my shoulder at night, declared it to have shades of The Notebook in terms of the central relationship – and it kind of burns to admit he’s right. I did struggle somewhat with the moral boundaries surrounding their re connection and it provided me with a great deal of internal conflict.

What Mix Tape does so well is to build the most wonderful of romances between two characters based solely on decades old memories and music. It is some way into the novel before they actually exchange words, and I adore that I could be so sold on a pairing with so little interaction between them. It’s also an important feature of the book that the reader gets to know Dan and Ali and their lives separate of one another, and I really liked that the author didn’t veer away from the characters having to make some very difficult decisions.

I really enjoyed this book. Great characters, beautifully written and all set to fantastic soundtrack of music choices. Highly recommended.

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