I was lucky to attend the Hot Key Books Spring/Summer Highlights event a few weeks ago and speak to the one and only Sarra Manning. I was already super excited to read London Belongs to Us after seeing it being described as a "galloping, giddy romp about empowerment and staying out until the sun rises" by author Holly Bourne (Am I Normal Yet?), and after having had the chance to chat to Sarra about the story and London I immediately bumped it up to the top of my to-read pile, it sounded that good. And while I didn't think it was possible, it was actually even better than I expected it to be. This book deserves ALL of the stars, and then some!
Sunny is a London teenager in a happy relationship with her boyfriend Mark, and with her parents away for the night she has decided that she is ready to take the next step in their relationship. That is, until she receives a text from OMG!Martha in which she sees Mark kissing a girl in short shorts. Even though she had just made the trek all the way to the other side of London to Crystal Palace, Sunny is absolutely crushed and the only thing she wants to do is to go home and wallow with a tub of ice cream and a movie.
While she has all the intentions of travelling home, when Mark messages her to say that the photos are not what it seems she decides to go find him and discuss the whole thing in person. What follows is a crazy 12-hour long trip to every corner of London while Sunny is carrying a broom and she has two French boys on mopeds in tow. Modes of transport during the night include rail replacement buses, trains and even a rickshaw, as she follows in the footsteps of Mark and pieces together the truth about the revealing photos and the girl trying to snatch Mark away from her.
London Belongs to Us starts out as a girl blindly following a boy, but as the night progresses, Sunny loses some of the inhibitions that usually hold her back and she becomes a more kick-ass version of herself.
This has got to be one of the best contemporary YA reads ever! It is fresh and funny, with a fantastic protagonist and as every chapter started with a little bit of history about the iconic London location Sunny would be exploring the next few hours it also made me discover more (in a hilarious way) about the city that I've been calling my home for the past 6 years.
I loved, loved, LOVED Sunny. She was such a fun character to experience this crazy whirlwind of a night with and the people that become a part of her story (read: the French boys) were an absolute delight. I love that while perhaps this started off as the story of a girl hung-up on a boy, throughout the night Sunny actually came to understand more about herself. And all the crazy things that happened to her ultimately created this fantastically funny and incredibly inspirational story of empowerment.
And you don't have to be a Londoner (or have even visited this city) to appreciate all the tidbits about the different areas mentioned, but it was heaps of fun to read about the tube while I was on one (thank heavens it wasn't a rail replacement bus) and about Alexandra Park just after I'd been there myself. It made the story come even more alive and I felt like I was travelling all corners of London with Sunny and the French boys. I want to reread the book (yes, already!) and follow in their footsteps while reading, if only South London wasn't such a stupidly long way away. #NorthLondonRepresent.
London Belongs to Us is a love letter to London and one of the funniest books I have ever read. I could not stop reading out passages to friends and I'm still giggling over the whole broom management theme. And when a novel has pie charts too, you know you're definitely onto a winner. There is nothing I can say that will capture just how amazing it is, so pick up London Belongs to Us as soon as it hits the shops on June 2 and find out for yourself!
Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
London Belongs to Us is published by Hot Key Books and you can pre-order the novel from Foyles or your own preferred retailer.