London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning
Published June 2, 2016 by Hot Key Books
Source: Allen & Unwin
Rating: 5 stars
From the blurb: Sunny is used to being a bit of a pushover. But when she's sent a picture of her boyfriend Mark kissing another girl, she's finally had enough. Vengeance will be hers - she just has to find him first.As Sunny travels across London to huny Mark down, she has the help of some of the city's most colourful characters and two devilishly handsome French boys. Sunny might be having the best night of her life, but when she finally catches up with Mark will she have the courage to do the right thing?
Sarra Manning is one of my favourite authors and I was so excited for London Belongs to Us, especially as I found the most perfect London-themed book tabs to match.
Seventeen year old Sunny lives in Crouch End with her mother, step-father, and step brother. Her father is Jamaican and her mother English, meaning she often feels as though people only see her skin colour, or just want to touch her hair, which she currently wears in an afro. Sunny's happily been dating Mark for 8 months and they were planning on having sex for the first time, but when she gets sent a photo of him kissing another girl, she knows she must confront him.
Sunny is a wonderful protagonist as she's easy to relate to. She's not great at confrontation or standing up for herself. She gets anxious and often lies awake at night making lists of her fears. She's sick of the commentary on her body and ancestry. She's a loyal friend, she loves Mean Girls, and she's an excellent girlfriend.
I thought the focus on friendship was excellent as a lot of books make everything about the romance, but in reality friends are often far more important. Even when it came to the potential relationship between Sunny and the alluring Jean-Luc, it was clear that their romance was going to be something that took time to grow rather than being jumped into immediately.
There was commentary on racism, something Sunny has had to deal with, being given different advice from her parents. The girls also discuss sexism and feminism, often struggling not to call other girls names, even when they know they shouldn't. It felt very real, I could definitely see teens wanting to do the right thing, but falling back into using names as a form of protection.
Each chapter begins with a time stamp and a description of a different place or suburb in London. This was a really fun way to introduce landmarks and areas that aren't as well known as the idea of London itself, especially as they weren't official descriptions, but Sunny's opinions of them. Sunny adores London, it's her favourite place and she's so happy she lives there. I could feel the author's love for the city whenever it was described.
I love, love, LOVED all the references to characters in the author's previous books: Max and Keith from You Don't Have to Say You Love Me (my all time fave book, I listen to the audio book at least once a month), Jeanne, Michael, and Duckie from Adorkable. It's always fun when an author links up her books and Sarra does this really well.
The pacing was also perfect. I'm sure it can be difficult to set a story over the course of one night but the story moved along at a good speed, never feeling rushed.
London Belongs to Us is a beautiful ode to London. It's a fun, feminist story perfect for teens and adults.
Thank you to Allen & Unwin for my review copy. RRP A$16.99.
Cover design and illustration: Nic and Lou
Typography: Jon Kennedy
This is such a fun cover, I love the London skyline and the adorable illustration of Sunny and the boys.
I started with a base of Barry M Navy. I used the following polishes for the polka dots: China Glaze Sea Spray, Zoya Juicy,. Zoya Marley, Zoya Robyn. I used acrylic paint for the illustrations.