Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Mix Tape by Jane Sanderson @SandersonJane @TransworldBooks #MixTape #BookReview




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…

Because what if ‘what could have been’ is yet to come?

Mix Tape by Jane Sanderson was published on 23 January 2020 by Bantam Press/Transworld Books. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Daniel and Alison met as teenagers in Sheffield, in the late 1970s. Daniel was the first boy to make Alison a mix tape. Their relationship revolved around their mutual love of music. The indie bands, the post-punk groups; the club scene. Listening to music, playing music, going to gigs and talking about tracks; they were so compatible.

However Alison's home life was chaotic. She spent as much time enclosed in the warm, loving heart of Daniel's family as possible. She was especially fond of his Dad Bill, and really cared about him and his homing pigeons. Dan's sister Claire painted her nails and treated her like a sister. Only his Mother Marion had slight concerns, but that's mothers and sons.
One day Alison just disappeared. Despite frantically searching for her, Dan never sees or hears from her again. The emotional damage has scarred him, and it's clear that Alison has also suffered over the years.

In 2012, Daniel and Alison live on opposite sides of the world. Dan is now a music journalist, living in Edinburgh with his partner Katelin, their son Alex is at University. Alison, now Ali is married to Michael, a doctor. They live in Michael's childhood mansion in Australia and have two teenage daughters. Neither Daniel or Alison have thought about those long ago Sheffield days.

Ali is a novelist and her most recent book has been a massive seller. She's famous across the world, her name is out there and when Dan discovers her on Social Media, he sends a link to a music track. No message, no words, just the song.
Seeing Dan's name and hearing the song evokes so many memories for Ali and it's not long before they are sending their own special mix tape virtually. Back and forth, they send links to tracks that mean so much to them.

Whilst on the surface, both Dan and Ali have appeared to be happy with their lives. These songs and their memories cause a stir for both of them. They both become consumed by what could have been. Dan is still desperate to know why Ali left whilst she has spent her entire adult life trying to forget her past. She's never spoken a word about her childhood experiences to her new family.

It is inevitable that Dan and Ali will meet again, despite the thousands of miles that separate them, and this meeting is another beginning for them both.
This clever and perceptive authors tells her story over two timelines; 1970s Sheffield and present day Scotland, Australia, and back to Sheffield.

The story is slowly unravelled and there are scenes of real heartbreak as we, and Dan learn about Ali's alcoholic mother, her violent and abusive stepfather and her tragic but wonderfully loving brother Peter.
Mix Tape is a nostalgic story that will evoke memories for readers of a certain age; those of us who also made up mix tapes of the songs that were special to us. The author deals with serious and often disturbing issues, including rape, homophobia, alcoholism and mental health with a deft and sensitive hand.

Beautifully written and thought provoking with truthful, often flawed characters. A joy to read.



Author photo © Charlie Hopkinson
Jane Sanderson was born in South Yorkshire in 1962. She studied English at Leicester University, then after graduating she became a journalist. After a series of jobs with local newspapers she joined the BBC where she worked as a producer for Radio 4, first on the World at One, and then on Woman’s Hour.
Jane’s first novel, Netherwood, following the fortunes of a mining community and its ‘big house’ in the early twentieth century, was published by Sphere in 2011. Two further books in the series followed: Ravenscliffe and Eden Falls, followed by a contemporary novel, This Much is True, published by Orion.
Her latest novel, Mix Tape, was published in early 2020 by Transworld. 
Jane lives with her husband, the journalist and author Brian Viner, in rural Herefordshire.









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