Friday, 27 May 2016

London Belongs To Us by Sarra Manning

London Belongs to UsTwelve 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.

Sarra Manning's new book is the very definition of a wild ride. Set over one day and night, Sunny goes on a quest across London to find her boyfriend and demand an explanation for this photo of him kissing another girl. For various reasons, he is difficult to pin down and Sunny gets more and more irritated. Manning created a brilliant main character in Sunny; she grows ever braver as the night wears on and I loved her voice from the very start. A girl of mixed race and untameable hair, Sunny is used to letting her voice get over-shadowed by friends and her boyfriend, but finally she's had enough.

Joining her on her journey are French boys Jean Luc and Vic, both of whom were absolutely hilarious. A bit stand-offish at first, we get to know them as Sunny does, and even though there is flirting and banter, I loved that there wasn't any major sparks. As Sunny is on the hunt for her soon to be ex-boyfriend's man-parts, I really appreciated that there wasn't any funny business, just moral and vehicular support.

There was also a great exploration of diversity without it being shoved down your throat. Especially in London, literally everyone is different and you will come across or be friends with a random mix of people, as shown by Sunny pleading her case with an Amazonian night-club bouncer, finding kindred spirits with drag queens at a kebab shop, and being her best friend's wing-woman with the roller derby girl she likes.

I loved seeing a different side to London; as I'm usually the tourist in this city, I don't know the areas and their people like Sunny does but her little history background lessons were equal parts helpful and hilarious. And as she and the boys literally zoom through all the neighbourhoods of central London, the city itself became character in her story and I fell in love with the city like Sunny does.

All in all, another major hit for Manning and definitely a new favourite of mine.

Published 2nd June 2016 by Hot Key Books. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

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