London Belongs To Us by Sarra Manning

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Thanks to my Kindle, I’ve been churning my way through books like never before.  Here are my thoughts on a book I read recently: London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning.

London Belongs to Us -Sarra Manning - Famous in Japan

London Belongs To Us by Sarra Manning

Publication Date: 02 June 2016
Publisher: Hot Key Books

Twelve hours, two boys, one girl . . . and a whole lot of hairspray.

Seventeen-year-old Sunny’s always been a little bit of a pushover. But when she’s sent a picture of her boyfriend kissing another girl, she knows she’s got to act. What follows is a mad, twelve-hour dash around London – starting at 8pm in Crystal Palace (so far away from civilisation you can’t even get the Tube there) then sweeping through Camden, Shoreditch, Soho, Kensington, Notting Hill . . . and ending up at 8am in Alexandra Palace.

Along the way Sunny meets a whole host of characters she never dreamed she’d have anything in common with – least of all the devilishly handsome (and somewhat vain) French ‘twins’ (they’re really cousins) Jean Luc and Vic. But as this love-letter to London shows, a city is only a sum of its parts, and really it’s the people living there who make up its life and soul. And, as Sunny discovers, everyone – from friends, apparent-enemies, famous bands and even rickshaw drivers – is willing to help a girl on a mission to get her romantic retribution.

A fast-paced, darkly funny love letter to London, boys with big hair and the joys of staying up all night.

2016 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for UK YA, and there are so many books I am looking forward to (sorry in advance, bank balance) (hey, that rhymed!).   London Belongs to Us was one of them, so you can imagine my delight when I received the opportunity to read it a few days before official publication.

Sunny, our main character, isn’t much of a “trailblazer”.  By her own admission: “I was the last of our crowd to do boyfriend jeans, neon nail polish or white-water rafting….”.  However, she has decided  that she is ready to Do It with her boyfriend of 8 months.   Oo-er.   When she is sent a picture of her boyfriend kissing another girl, literally a few hours before they plan to Do It, she initially sets out to get an explanation, believing him to be innocent… *tuts*    Accompanied by the coolest pair of French cousins (who have their own dedicated fan Tumblr) we accompany Sunny all over London as she has a night to remember.

I was immediately drawn into the story when it had me laughing within a few pages.  With its chatty, modern, and laid back writing style, I knew I was going to love it.

“Gretchen Weiner isn’t a ridiculous name for a cat!  She’s got loads of poufy fur like she hides all her secrets in it and sometimes when you’re trying to shift her off an armchair she gives you this “you can’t sit with us” look”.

Any book that references Mean Girls is a hit with me.

The characters in London Belongs to Us were, in one word, ace.  It’s very rare that I like all the characters in a novel but these were all incredibly well written and more importantly, they felt “real”.  Our main character, Sunny, is a shy black girl who doesn’t want to live up to the “angry black girl” stereotype.  Then we’ve got Emmeline, the best friend who is a lesbian and is also a member of a roller derby team.  We’ve also got the “too cool for life” French cousins, Jean-Luc and Vic, who come to Sunny in her hour of need.  Special mention goes to the minor characters such as OMG! Martha (the first words out of her mouth are always “Oh my God!”) and George who “wont stop tweeting links to Change.org petitions“.  George sounds like my kind of man…

Moving on…

London Belongs to Us is best read in one sitting, so that you live it as Sunny does.  It does lose a bit of the magic if you keep putting it down, and “breaking the spell” so to speak.  It is a book that demands, and deserves, your full attention.  So much happened, I had to keep reminding myself that it was all taking place in less than 24 hours!

At heart, London Belongs To Us is a coming of age story.  It’s about having the courage to be brave, whether you need the courage to stand up for yourself, or to take chances and put yourself out there.  London Belongs to Us talks about the issues of today, such as racism, virginity and feminism.   It’s worth noting that London Belongs to Us isn’t light hearted in its approach to these issues, but it is also not an issue book that touches on them seriously.  

London Belongs to Us is Sarra Manning’s love letter to London.  If you have lived in London all your life, you will love it.  As someone who has only ever been to London once in their entire life (don’t judge!) I could still appreciate it and enjoy the story.  I liked how there were little tidbits of history of London at the beginning of each chapter;  I had no idea that London had SO much history!

I loved London Belongs to Us, and it is definitely one of my favourite releases this year.   I awarded it 5/5 stars on GoodReads as I found it to be an unique, heartwarming and genuine story.  It is a perfect YA read.  I can’t wait to re-read it in the future and relive the magic – hopefully I won’t have to keep putting it down this time! *curses life’s commitments*   

Do you think if I ask nicely, Sarra will do a “Yorkshire Belongs to Us” sequel/companion novel?

Dannie x

A copy of London Belongs To Us by Sarra Manning provided in exchange for honest review.  No further compensation received.

June 8, 2016
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