The Actor and the Housewife

( 38 )


A very different kind of fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Shannon Hale.

What if you were to meet the number-one person on your laminated list—you know, that list you joke about with your significant other about which five celebrities you’d be allowed to run off with if ever given the chance? And of course since it’ll never happen it doesn’t matter…

Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she...

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The Actor and the Housewife: A Novel

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A very different kind of fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Shannon Hale.

What if you were to meet the number-one person on your laminated list—you know, that list you joke about with your significant other about which five celebrities you’d be allowed to run off with if ever given the chance? And of course since it’ll never happen it doesn’t matter…

Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity hearththrob Felix Callahan. Twelve hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later, something has happened…though nothing has happened. It isn’t sexual. It isn’t even quite love. But a month later Felix shows up in Salt Lake City to visit and before they know what’s hit them, Felix and Becky are best friends. Really. Becky’s husband is pretty cool about it. H er children roll their eyes. Her neighbors gossip endlessly. But Felix and Becky have something special…something unusual, something completely impossible to sustain. Or is it? A magical story, The Actor and the Housewife explores what could happen when your not-so-secret celebrity crush walks right into real life and changes everything.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This successful sophomore turn at chick lit (after Austenland) from YA and graphic novelist Hale sets up a platonic relationship between a dashing movie star and a Mormon housewife. While in Los Angeles to ink a deal for a script she's written, pregnant Becky Jack holds her own against her big screen crush, Felix Callahan, known the world over for charming his way through romantic comedies. Witty banter draws them together, and though they debate what their fascination with one another could mean, an improbable friendship is born. Their alliance weathers the occasional break, Felix's disinterest in children and his indifference toward Becky's Mormon faith; spousal jealousy and the chasm separating their lifestyles also throw an occasional curveball. Hale keeps the prose crackling with humor and has a sure hand in creating nuanced, believable characters, so when otherwise unlikely plot turns creep up-Becky getting cast opposite Felix-they're, well, likely enough. Though Becky just wants to keep her best friend and her normal life, readers will hope she gets nothing less than a fairy tale ending. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Mormon housewife meets British heartthrob, and the two become best friends. Disbelief is duly suspended. Hale, author of a number of imaginative YA titles and an adult novel (Austenland, 2007), here offers a strange concoction: a romantic comedy missing romantic leads. In Los Angeles to sell a screenplay (what luck, and on her first try!), pregnant Becky bumps into Felix Callahan (think Colin Firth/Hugh Grant). They engage in the kind of witty repartee that hasn't been heard since Carole Lombard graced the screen, and become bosom buddies. Becky returns to Utah and her husband Mike, resuming their happy suburban life filled with church and children. This leaves little room for a movie-star friend, especially since Felix is sophisticated, in possession of a "potty mouth" and an atheist with an aversion to children, while Becky is devoted to her kids, baking and the million other domestic miracles that occupy a day. Yet this mismatched pair improbably adore each other, and Mike is jealous. Though concerned-as are friends, family and church-Becky finally decides it is alright to be at home alone with a man who is not her husband: Felix, who is happily married to a French model, can be her friend! They chat every day and even make a movie together. (Yes! Starring Becky!) The odd, safe fantasy Hale has created is then jangled by a more sober realism. Mike gets cancer, and the domestic bliss Becky has enjoyed comes to a crushing end. Becky's devotion to her husband, her depression, her inability to see a romantic future for herself-all these elements ring true and tragic. Unfortunately, the novel hinges on Felix and Becky's relationship, and aside from a mutual love of quick-wittedbanter, their friendship is largely unbelievable. Hale's prose is friendly and funny, but she doesn't bring her premise to life.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596912885
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 6/9/2009
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,246,994
  • Product dimensions: 6.48 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Meet the Author

Shannon Hale

Shannon Hale is the author of Austenland, Rapunzel’s Revenge (a graphic novel), and five young adult novels, including the Newbery Honor–winning, New York Times bestselling Princess Academy. She is at work on a sixth young adult novel and her second graphic novel, Calamity Jack. S he lives with her husband and two children in Salt L ake City.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 38 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 38 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 13, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    I have read Shannon Hale's Austenland books and found them funny and intriguing...following the personal growth and struggles of the main characters....but this book (The Actor and the Housewife) was an emotional roller coaster of hysterical laughter, and heart wrentching tears. The story line and all of the characters were well developed, and made me want to travel to SLC to meet them. A Fabulous Read.....Terrific read....can't wait for her next adult novel....I have actually considered checking out her yound adult books too.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:


    Becky Jack is a Mormon housewife living in Layton, Utah, pregnant with her fourth child. She has just sold a screenplay to a film agency in LA and is meeting them there to sign the contract, when in walks Felix Callahan--sexy British star of Becky's favorite romantic comedies. The two of them clash right from the start and, despite their visible disdain for one another (and the fact that Felix has long been Becky's movie star crush), they find themselves staying at the same hotel and eating dinner together that night. Becky returns to Utah sure it was some fluke, a fun story to tell the fam, and that she'll never see Felix again. Au contraire, Becky. Turns out Felix hasn't been able to get their abrasive encounter out of his head and the next time he has a layover in Salt Lake City, he turns up to see her and figure out what the deal is. From there these two unlikely characters become the very best of friends. Talk on the phone daily, stay up all night long talking, drop everything to jet off to New York at a moment's notice kind of BFFs. As you might expect, a whole host of factors get in the way of their "friendship," including at times concerned/jealous spouses, their different faiths (or rather Becky's strict one and Felix's utter lack of one), their diametrically opposed lifestyles, etc. Self-proclaimed platonic lovers, these two weather the small and large storms of life as their friendship and story stretches out over a decade and more.

    I'll preface my comments by saying I have read all of Shannon Hale's YA books. I love her The Books of Bayern and thought her first adult novel Austenland was a fun, light romp for Austen fans. I expected to like this book just fine. I knew it would be quirky and different and fun. I certainly didn't go in expecting a happy ending because, well, given the subject matter who would? I laughed my way through the first 100 pages because any scene Becky and Felix share sparkles. I even cried. Once. At a scene about 80 pages in or so that was just so real (and a little close to home) it struck me in the gut. However, I felt that the next 250 pages were an uneven roller coaster ride of conflicting emotions, increasingly hard-to-swallow turns of event, and very inconsistent characterizations. Every aspect of the story felt so deliberate and pre-planned that it got in the way of my reading experience. It was an example of too much telling and not enough showing. The narrator and Becky herself told me over and over (and over again) how much she was in love with her solid-as-a-brick-wall husband, how little Felix meant to her compared to Mike, how she would never do anything to jeopardize her marriage, etc. Her actions spoke differently. The actual depiction of her marriage was lukewarm at best. The rock Mike was too vague an image to grasp. Next to Felix he was a mere smudge. Felix clearly meant an inexplicable amount to Becky. And vice versa. These two cannot function properly without each other. They will always be returning to each other. The crystal clear, most evocative, and resonant depictions were of Becky and Felix. And it was simply too difficult for me to buy everything Becky was saying in the face of what she was showing me page after page. And by the time the overwrought, rushed ending arrived I felt so completely jerked around I was unable to deal with the melodrama a moment longer.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This Book is a Woman's Antidote to Life

    I picked this book up at the library after loving Shannon Hale's book 'Austenland'. I didn't expect to be as impressed by this book, but I was completely wrong.
    This book is every woman's dream: the movie star you've had a crush on since high school comes along by complete chance, and before you know it, you're getting to know little things about this real man (who is also written in your diary and hanging above your bed on posters) and becoming his best friend.
    The Actor and the Housewife isn't just a feel-good romance with a writing style that makes you laugh outloud, it's an antidote to lonliness, heartache, sadness, and every other thing that brings us women down. This book left me smiling just because it was such a good story, and to be honest, it made me wonder if maybe, JUST maybe, something like that could one day happen to me.
    It's one of the best books I've ever read, and in my eyes, it can't disappoint anyone looking for a romance that we've all wondered about from time to time.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Not As Fluffy As It Might Seem

    Usually when I read a book, I have to place an actor in the role of the male main character. I was tempted to put Colin Firth in the place of Felix but it didn't seem right to me. Felix was too chipper. I think Hugh Grant would be better. Now that that is settled, on with the review.

    I was really excited about The Actor and the Housewife. Shannon Hale is one of my favorite authors and Austenland is one of my favorite Austen-esque novels. I was expecting The Actor and the Housewife to blow me away and it kinda sorta did. It was not what I expected it to be but what it was surprised me, intrigued me and gripped me all in the same breath. I expected this to be a typical nice women-married to a cad-meets nice man-marries him type of book. I was pleasantly surprised.

    Becky and Felix were such great characters and their friendship was surprisingly natural and endearing. Felix was not the typical spoiled actor that I was expecting. You expect a character that is rich and famous to have that arrogant and demanding personality that actors are famous for but he didn't. He had a heart and soul even if he was a bit spoiled. I had an initial disconnect with Becky. She seemed too nice. I thought she would be a quiet little character. One that would annoy me because of her meekness. Oh boy was I wrong. She is whip smart, sarcastic and funny. Her on and off friendship with Felix was great. They play off each other in a way that reminds me of my friendships with some of my guy friends. Their banter is witty and funny at times and touching and tear-inducing at others. Becky's relationship with her husband, Mike, is, perhaps, my favorite part of the novel. They were so sweet together. It is also what changed my mind about whether or not I wanted Felix and Becky to end up together.

    The friendship between Becky and Felix could have, in the hands of a lesser writer, seemed forced. Hale manages to pull off an extraordinarily unlikely friendship in an organic and easy to believe manner. I was surprised at how natural their friendship seemed. They were almost like soul mates without the mating.

    The Actor and the Housewife is a great read. The ending definitely surprised me. I am actually a bit torn about it. Part of me likes the way the novel ended but this other part of me, the more sentimental and romantic side, wants a sequel...badly.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2009

    Unbelievably entertaining and deliciously unpredictable

    I began this book expecting not to like it (based on one negative review), but committed to reading it in its entirety solely because of my high regard for this author's previous works. At first, its premise seemed too hard to swallow, but at least I wanted to believe. For much of the story I wondered if this story was going anywhere, (and not sure if I trusted where). But soon I was caught up in the funny dialogue, and enjoying myself too much to wonder at its improbability or its objectives.
    I found Becky Jack to be a genuine and likeable character. She's never snobbish about being friends with a star, and she isn't wow'ed by his stardom either (well, just at the very beginning.) Felix is harder to understand or relate to at first, but as the story progresses you get to know him and appreciate him. These characters are not perfect, (you might find yourself shouting at them), but they have their redeeming qualities.
    This book leads you through a broad range of emotions. Sometimes I felt unbearably uneasy. Sometimes I found myself reminiscing about old friends, surprised at how well I could relate. Some parts are cute-romantic. Some parts are gloriously romantic. Some pages of my book are tear stained. Many have quotes underlined. And I haven't laughed so much reading a book since, well maybe ever. (My cheeks hurt a little from grinning too much.)
    I love rollercoasters. Maybe that's why I found this book so delightful.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 29, 2011

    My Favorite Book!!!!

    One of my friends recommended this book to me after I purchased my Nook Color (which I LOVE!). She said that it was an easy read and she told me how much she had enjoyed it. I was a bit cautious but purchased it anyway......I finished the book in 3 days!! I didn't want to put it down. I found myself missing the 2 main characters after I was done! I read 2 other books after completing this one and I kept thinking "Oh, this book is o.k. but it's no "Actor & the Housewife"!! So, I'm reading it again!!! It's just as funny the 2nd time around!! I've recommended it to my mom who took it on vacation with her and she loved it, as well. It will be a holiday gift for a few of my friends this year. I can't say enough good things about this book!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Leap of Faith

    The Actor and The Housewife is somewhat fanciful, definitely romantic and at times, well the only word that comes to mind is down right perky.

    The thing that intrigued me the most was the fact that Becky was a Mormon. I wondered how the author would portray her and what I would learn about the Mormon faith. Shannon describes Becky's faith to the reader as seamlessly as she describes her personality, right away you know that this is who Becky is, her faith is not just something that she does once a week, it is as much a part of her as her quirky humor and her absolute love for her husband, Mike.

    The premise of the story is that yet to be answered question; can a man and a woman be friends? Shannon takes it a step further begging the question, can two people who are married but not to each other be not only friends but best friends. And suggests that this is a kind of 'best friends at first sight'; a first meeting of kindred spirits.

    If it wasn't for Becky's sweet nature that is 100% pure and for the complete trust and love that her husband Mike has in her, this story would not be believable at all. There are times when the dialogue between Becky and heartthrob, turned best friend Felix, gets down right punchy. But half way through the book there is an unexpected turn of events and what happens next felt very real to me and saved the story.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2012

    very fun read

    had me laughing and crying. I wasn't expecting this. I love that Shannon Hale is writing more mature book (but I will read anything she writes!)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A cute story about friendship and relationships

    As many aspiring screen writers know, selling a screenplay is almost impossible. When Mormon housewife Becky Jack sends in her very first screenplay she's pleasantly surprised when she gets the call that a studio is interested. Becky flies off to Los Angeles and in the offices of the production studio she meets Felix Callahan.

    Felix is the devilishly handsome British actor who Becky has always had a crush on. With nerves and fear bubbling up to the surface Becky can't stop insulting Felix but he's one step ahead of her tosses his own insults right back at her. Surprisingly the banter sparks interest on both sides and they end up having dinner together.

    Afterward, Becky heads home, laughs about the encounter with her husband Mike and goes back to her daily life secretly cherishing the time she spent with Felix. When a layover puts Felix in Salt Lake City he drops in on Becky and a tentative friendship begins between the actor and the housewife. What follows is a twelve year friendship filled with a lot of 'should we', 'can we', 'do you think' and more ups and downs than a roller coaster.

    This book was so sweet. I absolutely loved the relationship between Becky and Felix. They were daring, witty and fun and I couldn't get enough. I think without such witty dialogue I might have enjoyed the book at lot less because situations like this never happen in real life. The ending was a complete surprise but I was definitely satisfied by it.

    The only thing that kept me from rating this a full five stars is the anticipation I felt through most of it. I was constantly thinking that by the next page things were going to take off at break neck speed but the journey was pretty mellow despite the ups and downs of their lives. Overall I highly recommend this one to lovers of contemporary fiction and chick-lit lovers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Funny and enjoyable, but...

    I enjoyed this book. Hale has a wonderful sense of humor, and Felix and Becky's constant banter provides an excellent vehicle for her jokes. The dialogue is silly and often fast-moving-á la 1930s screwball comedies like Bringing Up Baby, featuring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

    Of course, The Actor and the Housewife isn't all fun and games. Through Becky and Felix, Hale seriously considers the pros, cons, and practicality of mixed friendships among married people. And by "seriously considers" I mean that Becky Jack agonizes about it at least every ten pages. While repetitive, this makes sense as the issue is at the center of the plot as well as of Becky's mind and heart.

    Since Becky Jack is a Mormon, her faith is a focal point of the novel. Hale, also a Mormon, handles this aspect of the novel with grace; rather than feeling forced, Becky's faith comes out as a part of her that she naturally expresses. As a (mainstream) Christian, I do have some differences with the LDS Church, but this did not interfere with my enjoyment of the novel.

    As an added bonus, due to both Hale's and Becky's beliefs, The Actor and the Housewife is a clean novel. Any swear words or suggestions of smut are there for the realistic portrayal of certain characters.

    All of that being said, I do have a few complaints about the novel; the biggest one being the length. Even as I laughed at jokes and cried at dramatic moments, I wondered when it would finally end. Over and over, not unlike Becky's musings about whether or not having a best guy friend was akin to cheating on her husband.

    On a final note, I was excited about this book: I'm a big fan of Shannon Hale's writing, and the subject matter of The Actor and the Housewife is certainly intriguing. The Actor and the Housewife is Hale's second book for grown-ups. At nineteen, I am technically a grown-up, but I still have mixed feelings toward adult fiction. Last summer, however, I read Austenland, Hale's first adult novel, and loved it. The main characters are significantly older than I am and experiencing aspects of life I won't even get close to for years-and this created no significant obstacle to my enjoyment of the book. Naturally, I expected the adult-ness of Hale's second grown-up novel to behave similarly.

    Unfortunately, this was not the case, and I suspect that middle age and motherhood can only deepen a reader's understanding of the novel. I intend to reread this one years from now and expect to have a different experience.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not something I enjoy

    I enjoyed Austenland so when this book was given me to read, I was looking forward to a lovely read. I was very disappointed. Read about 1/3 of it, skipped to end and then moved it to the return-for-other-advance-readers pile. <BR/><BR/>In my opinion based on the parts I read, the author did a good job of capturing the self-delusional "what I'm doing is perfectly innocent and more than ok" attitude I have seen over and over. Becky struck me as self-centered, full of false humility. Reminds me of people I know who find themselves much more brilliant/funny/witty/gorgeous than I find them. Maybe it is that I've seen several friends get involved in these pseudo-affairs, leaving broken families in its wake. <BR/><BR/>I'm hard pressed to suggest who I think might enjoy this book so I'll leave it to others to help those that will enjoy this book find it.<BR/><BR/>No book will appeal to everyone. This one is not for me.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2014


    I am a big fan of Shannon Hale and I was extremely ecstatic that her writing about Becky's faith was so strong. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints (Mormon) and I enjoyed this book to the max. Becky's personality at first was enough to drive me insane, but I grew to love her insights and attitude towards her life. I can definitely relate to some the family issues she has in the book. For example, when she finds out about Mike's sickness. I recently found out that my father has traces of skin cancer. Reading this book was a great comfort to me. Shannon Hale is a genious when it comes to writing, and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

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  • Posted May 7, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Too long Honestly, the book was too long. There are a lot

    Too long

    Honestly, the book was too long. There are a lot of good topics, but the author keeps going over the same themes, just gives different people the same conversations. Somehow, I made myself finish the book. I wasn't surprised by the ending, but ..well, again, it just dragged out, it was too long!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2014

    Unpredictable & Unique

    I am truly surprised that this book hasn't become more popular. The plot and characters have already been reviewed sufficiently by others, so I won't repeat that. However, I will my opinion of the book, and my take aways.

    The book is an odd combination of contradictions.
    For a storyline that seems so unlikely, this story is full of real life.
    One of the things I appreciated most was the range of emotions The Actor and The Housewife elicited from me. I laughed hysterically till I cried, and wept with my heart aching at other times. As a mother, certain aspects of motherhood and parenting were so relatable, it was as though Hale were writing scenes from my crazy life. Contrarily, other parts of the protagonist were completely foreign to me; I felt privileged to glimpse into another's life and see how she lives.
    It was a wonderful blend. Nothing felt forced about the plot, characters, or writing style, which is evidence of Hale's skill in storytelling. Aside from being a unique story, The Actor and The Housewife had the bonus of being unpredictable. Personally, I feel let down when I can see clearly where a book is headed.

    I was quite content with the end and entirely happy to have taken the journey through life with "the housewife". I came away more sensitive to the grieving process, aware of what to actually do to show love to those hurting. The knowledge to treasure each moment with loved ones was reinforced.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2013

    Unexpected, in a good way


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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    Age appropriate

    Is this appropriate for 11 year olds?

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  • Posted July 5, 2011

    AMAZING!!! A must read!!

    I think this was the first book I laughed, cried, and carried absolutely everywhere with me till i finished it!!!! You have to read it!!

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  • Posted May 19, 2010

    It started Good, but then turned aweful

    It was an interesting story and thought, can a married woman and married man be just friends? I think I would have enjoyed this book more except for the strong Mormon ties the main character has and how it becomes a religious decision for her. I also hated the ending, it was cheesy to the max, but then ended abruptly and left me empty. I wish I could say more, but fear I would spoil it for anyone interested in reading this. I could have skipped this book all together and probably been better off.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Can a married man and a married woman be just friends?

    That is the premise of this book and it is an interesting one. This book starts out very, very funny. I mean, come on, what could a mormon housewife of 4 have in common with a superstar actor from England? But then the book turns interesting and sad and then sort of spiritual. I enjoyed it but you never quite know where it is going.

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  • Posted July 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    This story is about the friendship between Becky, a pregnant happily married, Mormon Housewife and Felix, an Actor. Their friendship spans over years of joy and heartbreak.
    Some parts of the novel made me laugh out loud but then at other parts I just didn't feel connected. The story just didn't grab me like I wanted it to.

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