Being stuck in the 80s myself I had high hopes for the novel 49 Mix Tapes by Jeff Tompkins which is set between 1985-89, I wanted plenty of 80s pop culture references, wanted to be swept back in time to those bygone school days and most of all I wanted to escape the modern day world for a while, immersing in nostalgia.
So after setting aside some time to read a chapter or two it became apparent quite quickly that I would be reading the whole novel in one sitting, yes it is definitely one book that you can’t put down. The story is based around the main character Will McCarthy and chronicles his high school journey as well as his romantic endeavours as he is also in love with his best friend Abby Carlisle who calls them ‘soul friends’ but no more. We follow him on his adolescent journey as he comes of age, focusing on his friendships, school life, family, where he wants to go in life and of course the teenage dating conundrums. Not only are you offered a decent plot line with some believable characters but you are given a whole host of 80s references, from films, TV, music, fashion as well as a glimpse into the attitude of youth during this period.
Quite frankly I loved it, I didn’t want it to end and I found the notebook carrying, wannabe writer Will hilarious. As the story is written from his perspective you can’t help but cheer him on, he is relatable and extremely witty, I laughed out loud many times during this book. The rest of the characters are great and just as real including that of Abby who is one cool and switched on chick, apart from when it comes to Will and his obvious unrequited love… Will they or wont they get together is the overarching question through this tale!? A time capsule with great memories as well as flashbacks for all us 80s fans, and as the title suggests there will be a mention or two regarding mix tapes, (ahh those were the days) as Will has a love of making these for Abby, so not only are you reading words but I can guarantee a few songs will be stuck in your head throughout as this novel also comes with a metaphorical soundtrack.
A great read for anyone who is as obsessed with the 80s like me and who grew up during this awesome decade and even though the novel is written in America (I’m British) you are still able to understand the high school references with ease. A book that made me smile, laugh, reminisce and that to me is exactly what you want out of a novel like this. Thank you Jeff Tompkins for bringing the life of an 80s teenager back!
By Carli Davies