London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning
Publication: June 2nd 2016 by Bonnier Publishing Fiction
Format: eBook Pages: 272
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
A mixed race female protagonist, a lesbian couple, a guy called Hassan who has to go to the mosque when something he doesn’t want to do comes up, and two hilarious French guys who spend 90% of their time yelling at each other and riding around London on their mopeds. I loved how diverse this book was, thus rightfully representing London! I also now have ‘moped’ scrawled on my wish list.
London Belongs to Us was easy to read, and the story was fast paced. I liked the way each chapter began with the name of a place in London followed by a description of its history. These parts were interesting to read, and I learned a lot about London from them. But I have a memory of a goldfish, so I’ve also forgotten everything.
Each character had their own distinct and fascinating personality. The female characters were strong and attention was paid to their friendships. (They were depicted as normal and realistic for once.) Jean-Luc and Vic reminded me of the French guard in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (see video below). However, I hated Sunny, the protagonist. She was SO bloody annoying.
The entire premise of the story was Sunny rushing around London chasing after a cheating assbag of a boyfriend to dump him. Pretty much every character tried to hold her back and say: “He cheated on you why the hell are you putting so much effort running after him like a puppy?” I was yelling “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?!” every few pages. She wasted an entire damn weekend on a good-for-nothing cheat. Why even? She could have been curled up in bed with a book or catching up on a whole series on Netflix! I didn’t understand this insistence on giving the guy a piece of her mind and all that rubbish. Not-worth-it.
She was just annoying, so I sort of blanked her out and focused on the action surrounding her, as that was far more interesting and enjoyable to read about, but it’s hard to ignore a protagonist *sigh*. Some of Sunny’s lines got under my skin and I wanted to knock her out. For example, Sunny gets catcalled by a bunch of douchebags who refer to her as a ‘lighty’ and ask her why she’s ‘hanging out with a white boi’ ( a reference to Jean-Luc and Vic) they then ask if she’s ‘too good for a brother’. Sunny does not respond to their catcalling verbally, but she goes ahead and thinks: ‘They may be black, but they’re still being racist. Like all I am to them is the colour of my skin.’ No. No. NO. If anything they are just being sexist pigeon shits. Let’s not get into a discussion about how racism actually works in a book review. I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt and pen this down as the character’s ignorance of societal structures and yadda yadda. I mean, if she’s dumb enough to spend a weekend chasing a guy around London to tell him it’s over… nothing is too stupid for her.
The other characters though. Oh my god. They were awesome! Emmeline (named after Emmeline Pankhurst) and Charlie (named after my cat) (okay, not really but my cat IS called Charlie) were so cute. I liked Emmeline; she was a straight-forward best friend. I continued to like her even though she left Sunny to pick herself up after seeing pictures of him cheating, so that’s saying something. I’ve already mentioned Jean-Luc and Vic, but please; they were the life and soul of this book. There should be a book dedicated to Jean-Luc and Vic chronicling their moped adventures. Also, Jean-Luc likes to bake and switches to French when he gets flustered… he actually bemoaned the fact that he lost precious baking hours because of Sunny’s gallopade through London. She could have been eating freshly baked tarts or something instead!
Overall, I did enjoy the book despite my dislike of Sunny. Seriously, just blank her out.
“Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!” *breaks down laughing*