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Extract – Mix Tape by Jane Sanderson

Today I’m delighted to be sharing an extract from Mix Tape as part of the blog tour, which is one of my #EmmasAnticipatedReads for January 2020.

Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Jane Sanderson and Bantam Press for providing the extract.

MixTape3Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Bantam Press.
Format: Hardcover, Kindle.
Genre: Romance, Contemporary.

SYNOPSIS:

You never forget the one that got away. But what if ‘what could have been’ is yet to come?

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…

Mix Tape Cover

EXTRACT:

Sheffield,
23 December 1978

There they go, at the beginning of it all, their younger selves, walking through the dark, winter streets of Sheffield: Daniel Lawrence and Alison Connor. He’s eighteen, she’s sixteen, it’s Saturday night and they’re heading together to Kev Carter’s Christmas party, and nothing much has been said since he met her from the bus, but each is achingly conscious of the other. Her hand in his feels too good to be only a hand, and his presence, by her side, makes her mouth feel dry, and her heart beat too quickly, too close to the skin. They walk in step with each other along the pavement, and there isn’t far to go from the bus stop to Kev’s house, so it’s not long before a throb of music fills the silence between them, and he glances down, just as she looks up, and they smile, and he feels that pulse of pure longing he gets when Alison’s eyes alight upon him, and she  . . . well, she can’t think when she’s ever felt this happy. 

Kev’s front door was wide open to the night, and light and music spilled out on to the weeds and cracked flags of the garden path. Kev was Daniel’s friend, not Alison’s – they were at different schools – and she hung back a little as he walked in, so that Daniel seemed to be pulling her into the room after him. She enjoyed that feeling, of being led into the room by this boy, so that everyone could see she was his, he was hers. There was Blondie on the tape deck, ‘Picture This’, playing too loud so that the bass distorted, vibrated. Alison liked this one, wanted to shed her coat, get a drink, have a dance. But then almost at once Daniel let go of her hand to hail Kev across the room, shouting over the music, laughing at something that Kev shouted back. He nodded and said, ‘All right?’ to Rob Marsden, and nodded and smiled at Tracey Clarke, who grinned back knowingly. She was leaning on the wall, on her own, by the kitchen door, as if she was waiting for a bus. Fag in one hand, a can of Strongbow in the other, dirty blonde hair with Farrah Fawcett flicks, plum lipstick, and kohl-lined eyes that cut a cool, considering gaze at Alison. Tracey took a long drag on her cigarette and sent the smoke out sideways.

‘You going out wi’ him?’ she said, tossing her head in Daniel’s direction. Tracey, older and wiser, no longer a virgin schoolgirl, money in her purse and a boyfriend with a car. Alison didn’t know this girl and she blushed – couldn’t help herself – and said yes, she was. Daniel was just out of reach now, so Alison just stared hard at the back of his dark head and willed him to turn around. Tracey raised one eyebrow and smirked. Smoke hung in the air between them. Alison’s shoes were killing her.

‘You want to watch him,’ Tracey said. ‘He’s in demand.’ There was a beat of silence when Alison didn’t reply, then Tracey shrugged and said, ‘Drinks in there.’

She meant the kitchen behind her, and through the open door ahead Alison saw a great crush of people around a green Formica table, and a mess of bottles and crisps and plastic cups. She slid away from the vaguely malevolent attentions of Tracey and pushed her way in, thinking Daniel could’ve got her a drink. Should’ve got her a drink. But, look, he’d been commandeered by all these people that he knew, and she didn’t. Now Jilted John was on the mix tape, so suddenly people were singing but nobody was dancing, and behind Alison there were even more people pressing into the tiny room. She didn’t recognise a soul, although there must be somebody she knew here, because the place was packed out. She edged through to the table of booze, aware of a strong smell of cigarettes and cider, and, suddenly, Old Spice.
‘All right, Alison?’
She looked round and saw Stu Watson, all cockiness and swagger in his denim jacket with an upturned collar and Joe Strummer’s scowling face on his T-shirt. Pound to a penny he couldn’t name a single song by The Clash, but anyway she was glad to see a familiar face. Stu’s quick, narrow eyes swept over her with bold appreciation.
‘You look all right, anyway,’ he said.
‘Right, well, you look pissed, Stu.’
‘Just got here?’
‘Obviously,’ she said, pointing at her coat. ‘But you’ve been here a while by the look of you.’
‘Early bird, me,’ Stu said. ‘What you drinking?’
‘Nothing yet. Martini, I suppose.’
Stu grimaced. ‘How can you drink that shit? It tastes like fucking medicine.’

Alison ignored him. She was too hot but she didn’t know what to do with her coat in this unfamiliar house, so she let it drop a little way down her back and Stu’s eyes wandered down to the newly exposed skin of her neck and throat. Alison looked behind her for Daniel and she could see him, still in the living room, not looking for her, but talking to another girl. Mandy Phillips. Alison knew her from the school bus. Tiny like a child, henna curls, pixie nose, tipping her face up towards Daniel’s and all bathed in light by his attention. His arms were folded and there was a space between him and Mandy, but from what Alison could see, his eyes were all over her. As Alison watched them, Mandy reached up and pulled Daniel by the shoulder towards her, cupped her sweet hand, said something into his ear. Daniel gave her his trademark smile: hesitant, a half-smile really. His hair was dark and longish, falling into his eyes, and Alison wanted to touch it.

Stu was looking in the same direction. ‘I’m Mandy, fly me,’ he said. ‘Fuck me, more like.’
‘Oh, piss off, Stu,’ Alison said. She spun away from him and lifted a bottle of Martini Rosso from the table, sloshed a generous measure into a cup and took a deep drink. He was right, it was kind of disgusting, bitter, but also very familiar, so she took another swig, then wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, ditched the cup on the table and took her coat off, slinging it on to a chair. She was wearing Wranglers that she’d worn in a hot bath to shrink them down to a second skin, and a new shirt that looked good, looked bloody great; she should know, she’d spent long enough staring at herself in the bedroom mirror. It was white, looked and felt like slippery satin, and she’d opened one more button since leaving home. Stu couldn’t take his eyes off her but she didn’t even glance at him as she took back the Martini, had another swig and edged her way through the bodies, out of the kitchen.

Alison was talking to Stu Watson, a fucking wily ferret, a creep with hungry eyes, arms like wandering tentacles. Daniel could see them both in the kitchen, and he was stuck here with Mandy Phillips, whose own manipulative eyes were filling with tears as she told him Kev Carter had finished with her, tonight, at his own party, the bastard. This was what happened to Daniel.
Girls cleaved to him and spilled their souls. He didn’t have to encourage them; they just sensed something about him, even he didn’t know what it was, and they talked and talked. Only . . . Alison Connor didn’t. He’d asked her to go out with him and she’d said yes, but in the day or two since then she’d hardly spoken to him in the brief times they’d been together, and yet he wanted her by his side, knew it was right, knew there was something about her. But she’d already said more in the kitchen to Stu sodding Watson than she ever had to him. Meanwhile Mandy was on the second telling of the same sad story and he knew it was all leading to a come-on, a why-not, a kiss and a promise. Kev was busy clowning around, catching his eye, giving him the thumbs up, as if Daniel might need his cast-offs. Life was just a big game to Kev Carter; of course he’d dumped Mandy tonight  – he liked a bit of drama, and where was the fun in knowing whose knickers you’d be getting into later?

Now ‘Night Fever’ was blasting out through the speakers and Mandy was starting to move her shoulders in time to the music. There was a line of girls in the middle of the room working their Travolta moves, a line of boys watching them and arsing around, trying to copy. Mandy tugged on Daniel’s shoulder and he leaned into her so she could cup a small hand round his ear.

‘Do you wanna dance?’ she whispered, her breath warm.
He didn’t hear, pulled back and smiled at her. ‘What?’ he said.
‘Do you wanna . . . ?’ She paused and smiled. ‘Y’know . . . dance?’
She cocked her head and said ‘dance’ in a way that suggested much, much more. No tears now. Kev was ancient history.
‘No,’ Daniel said, and stepped back. He looked towards the kitchen for Alison, but he couldn’t see her now, or Stu. He should’ve stayed with her, taken her coat, fetched her a drink, and he cursed himself for being drawn into Mandy’s crisis.
‘What?’ Mandy said, loud enough now to be heard over the music without breathing in his ear.
Daniel was distracted by Alison’s absence and he cast his eyes round the room, but at the same time he said, ‘No, Mandy, course I don’t want to bloody dance with you.’ He was panicking, wondering if Alison was even still here, at the party. She might have bolted. He wished he knew her better, knew how her mind worked.

‘You’re a bastard, Daniel Lawrence,’ Mandy shouted, and she slapped him across the cheek, ineffectually because she was drunk, but still, her nails grazed his skin.
‘Fuck’s sake, Mandy,’ he said, looking down at her in disbelief.
She burst into easy, meaningless tears and turned away, looking for another shoulder, and Daniel touched his cheek where it stung. Christ Almighty. And he hadn’t even had a beer yet. Some fucking party. He moved towards the kitchen and, as he did, the Bee Gees came to a brutal halt because Kev ripped the tape out of the deck and put another one in, so suddenly the room filled with the insistent drum and bass opening of ‘Pump It Up’, and Daniel was rooted to the floor, waiting reverentially for Elvis Costello’s voice to weave its way into his head.

And oh God, Alison, there she was. She was dancing, alone, in the crowd. She’d kicked off her shoes so she was barefoot, and she was dancing with her eyes closed, and she didn’t move her feet at all, although the rest of her body was caught up in the music, and her arms made wild, wonderful shapes above her head. She danced like nobody else. She danced in a way that the others tried to copy, but each time they almost got it she changed, shifted, did something different, but her feet didn’t leave the floor. Daniel watched her, completely transfixed. He’d never seen anything so beautiful, so uninhibited, so fucking sexy, in all his life.

Jane Sanderson Author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jane Sanderson is a writer and journalist. She has worked as a producer for BBC Radio 4, first on the World at One, and then on Woman’s Hour. She lives with her husband and children in rural Herefordshire.

Jane has poured much of her own story into this book; from the boyfriend who gifted her a mix tape introducing her to the likes of Van Morrison, to the carefully curated playlist (featured in the book) which includes songs that have helped to shape her life and pay homage to her own youth.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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Emma’s Anticipated Treasures: January 2020

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There are far too many books I’m excited about this year to create a top ten most anticipated, so I’ve decided instead to start writing a post of my most anticipated books each month and start the hashtag #EmmasAnticipatedTreasures

This month I’m doing this a little late and there is a book that would have been on this list, except I read it last month. The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page is a delightful novel that I devoured quickly. It is released on January 23rd, along with most of the books on this list. It’s going to be an expensive, but amazing, year for books.

THE DILEMMA by B. A Paris

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Published: January 9th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense.

SYNOPSIS:
It’s Livia’s 40th birthday and she’s having the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding she never had. Everyone she loves will be there except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But although Livia loves Marnie, she’s secretly glad she won’t be at the party. She needs to tell Adam something about their daughter but she’s waiting until the part is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam wants everything to be perfect for Livia so he’s secretly arranged for Marnie to come home and surprise her on her birthday. During the day, he hears some terrible news. He needs to tell Livia, because how can the party go on? But she’s so happy, so excited – and the guests are about to arrive.

The Dilemma – how far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?

 

THREE HOURS by Rosamund Lupton

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Published: January 9th, 2020
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense.

SYNOPSIS:
Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.
It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.
It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.
It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.

 

MR. NOBODY  by Catherine Steadman

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Published: January 9th, 2020
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Psychological thriller, mystery, suspense.

SYNOPSIS:
When a man is found on a Norfolk beach, drifting in and out of consciousness, with no identification and unable to speak, interest in him is sparked immediately. From the hospital staff who find themselves inexplicably drawn to him; to international medical experts who are baffled by him; to the national press who call him Mr Nobody; everyone wants answers. Who is this man? And what happened to him?

Neuropsychiatrist Dr Emma Lewis is asked to assess the patient. This is her field of expertise, this is the chance she’s been waiting for and this case could make her name known across the world. But therein lies the danger. Emma left this same small town in Norfolk fourteen years ago and has taken great pains to cover all traces of her past since then.

But now something – or someone – is calling her back. And the more time she spends with her patient, the more alarmed she becomes.

Has she walked into danger?

 

NINE ELMS by Robert Bryndza

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Published: January 9th, 2020

Publisher: Sphere
Genre: Psychological thriller, crime fiction, suspense, police procedural.

SYNOPSIS:
From the breakthrough international bestselling author of The Girl in the Ice, a breathtaking, page-turning novel about a disgraced female detective’s fight for redemption. And survival.

Kate Marshall was a promising young police detective when she caught the notorious Nine Elms serial killer. But her greatest victory suddenly became a nightmare.
Fifteen years after those catastrophic, career-ending events, a copycat killer has taken up the Nine Elms mantle, continuing the ghastly work of his idol.

Enlisting her brilliant research assistant, Tristan Harper, Kate draws on her prodigious and long-neglected skills as an investigator to catch a new monster. But there’s much more than her reputation on the line: Kate was the original killer’s intended fifth victim . . . and his successor means to finish the job.

 

AMERICAN DIRT by Jeannie Cummins

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Published: January 21st, 2020
Publisher: Tinder Press
Genre: Suspense

SYNOPSIS:
FEAR KEEPS THEM RUNNING. HOPE KEEPS THEM ALIVE.
Vivid, visceral, utterly compelling, AMERICAN DIRT is the first novel to explore the experience of attempting to illegally cross the US-Mexico border. Described as ‘a life-affirming triumph’ (Independent) and ‘essential reading’ (Tracy Chevalier), it is a story that will leave you utterly changed.

Yesterday, Lydia had a bookshop.
Yesterday, Lydia was married to a journalist.
Yesterday, she was with everyone she loved most in the world.
Today, her eight-year-old son Luca is all she has left.
For him, she will carry a machete strapped to her leg.
For him, she will leap onto the roof of a high speed train.
For him, she will find the strength to keep running.

 

HAVEN’T THEY GROWN by Sophie Hannah

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense, crime fiction, police procedural.

SYNOPSIS:
All Beth has to do is drive her son to his Under-14s away match, watch him play, and bring him home.

Just because she knows that her former best friend lives near the football ground, that doesn’t mean she has to drive past her house and try to catch a glimpse of her. Why would Beth do that, and risk dredging up painful memories? She hasn’t seen Flora Braid for twelve years.

But she can’t resist. She parks outside Flora’s house and watches from across the road as Flora and her children, Thomas and Emily, step out of the car. Except…

There’s something terribly wrong.

Flora looks the same, only older – just as Beth would have expected. It’s the children that are the problem. Twelve years ago, Thomas and Emily Braid were five and three years old. Today, they look precisely as they did then. They are still five and three. They are Thomas and Emily without a doubt – Beth hears Flora call them by their names – but they haven’t changed at all.

They are no taller, no older.

Why haven’t they grown?

 

THE OTHER PEOPLE by C. J. Tudor

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense.

SYNOPSIS:
She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room…
Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice . . .

 

PINE by Francine Toon

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Ghost story, horror

SYNOPSIS:
They are driving home from the search party when they see her. The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men.

Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone.

In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago.

Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust.

In the shadow of the Highland forest, Francine Toon captures the wildness of rural childhood and the intensity of small-town claustrophobia. In a place that can feel like the edge of the word, she unites the chill of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.

 

LITTLE BANDAGED DAYS by Kyra Wilder

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A mother moves to Geneva with her husband and their two young children. In their beautiful new rented apartment, surrounded by their rented furniture, and several Swiss instructions to maintain quiet, she finds herself totally isolated. Her husband’s job means he is almost never present, and her entire world is caring for her children – making sure they are happy, and fed and comfortable, and that they can be seen as the happy, well-fed, comfortable family they should be. Everything is perfect.
But, of course, it’s not. The isolation, the sleeplessness, the demands of two people under two, are getting to Erika. She has never been so alone, and once the children are asleep, there are just too many hours to fill until morning…

Kyra Wilder’s Little Bandaged Days is a beautifully written, painfully claustrophobic story about a woman’s descent into madness. Unpredictable, frighteningly compelling and brutally honest, it grapples with the harsh conditions of motherhood and this mother’s own identity, and as the novel continues, we begin to wonder just what exactly Erika might be driven to do.

 

OUR FATHERS by Rebecca Wait

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Riverrun
Genre: Literary fiction

SYNOPSIS:
What kind of man kills his own family?
When Tom was eight years old, his father took a shotgun and shot his family: his wife, his son and baby daughter, before turning the gun on himself. Only Tom survived.
He left his tiny, shocked community on the island of Litta and the strained silence of his Uncle Malcolm’s house while still a young boy. For twenty years he’s tried to escape his past. Until now.

Without knowing how to ask, he needs answers – from his uncle, who should have known. From his neighbours, who think his father a decent man who ‘just snapped’. From the memories that haunt the wild landscape of the Hebrides.

And from the silent ones who know more about what happened – and why – than they have ever dared admit.

By turns gripping, beautiful, devastating and tender, Our Fathers is a story about violence and redemption, control and love. With understated compassion and humour, Rebecca Wait gives a voice to the silenced and to the silences between men of few words.

 

MIX TAPE by Jane Sanderson

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Romance, contemporary

SYNOPSIS
You never forget the one that got away. But what if ‘what could have been’ is yet to come?

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?

 

THE WOODS by Vanessa Savage

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Sphere
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense, crime fiction.

SYNOPSIS:
There’s a lot from Tess’s childhood that she would rather forget. The family who moved next door and brought chaos to their quiet lives. The two local girls who were murdered, their killer never found. In fact, the only thing she can’t remember is the one thing she wishes she could.

Ten years ago, Tess’s older sister died. Ruled a tragic accident, the only witness was Tess herself, but she has never been able to remember what happened that night in the woods.

Now living in London, Tess has resolved to put the trauma behind her. But when an emergency call from her father forces her back to the family home, Tess discovers that, sometimes, the past cannot be laid to rest . . .

 

ADULTS by Emma Jane Unsworth

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Published: January 30th, 2020
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Genre: General fiction, humour.

SYNOPSIS:
Jenny is unloved, unemployable and emotionally unfiltered. Her long-suffering friends seem sick of her and whilst her social media portrays her life as a bed of roses, it is more of a dying succulent.

Adults is what you want it to be. A misadventure of maturity, a satire on our age of self-promotion, a tender look at the impossibility of womanhood, a love story, a riot. And Emma Jane Unsworth is the only voice to hear it from. Adults is excruciating, a gut punch of hilarity and a book laden with truth that you will read again and again.

Jenny is unloved, unemployable and emotionally unfiltered. Her long-suffering friends seem sick of her and whilst her social media portrays her life as a bed of roses, it is more of a dying succulent.

Adults is what you want it to be. A misadventure of maturity, a satire on our age of self-promotion, a tender look at the impossibility of womanhood, a love story, a riot. And Emma Jane Unsworth is the only voice to hear it from. Adults is excruciating, a gut punch. of hilarity and a book laden with truth that you will read again and again.