Jacquelyn Middleton’s book London Belongs to Me opens with a young American aspiring playwright, Alex Sinclair, arriving in London fresh from graduating college. Her luggage, however, does not arrive, and things just keep going downhill for poor Anglophile Alex. Though she loves London’s culture and history, her initial flatmates are not the best of friends, and she makes a rival her very first day.
London Belongs to Me is fairly well written, though there are some discrepancies. The novel is mainly from the point of view of Alex, who grew up in Florida, but it is littered with British spellings and slang–something that would have been believable had Alex herself used such language. However, the character stuck primarily with American terminology, a point that is even referenced later in the book. As someone who has worked closely with British writers and knows the differences, I found it more than a little distracting.
The point of view occasionally shifted as well, and while this does not bother me when the change is intentional and well-defined, there were several points in the book where Alex’s point of view suddenly became someone else’s without warning then slipped back again. Things would happen through another character’s eyes that Alex couldn’t possibly have seen, then the reader would be back with Alex. It was a tad jarring.
The character of Alex was something of a doormat for most of the book, letting herself get pushed around and clinging to old habits and hangups. It wasn’t until she finally hooked up with her main crush that she opened up and became a strong character, which was a bit sad–especially when one considers that Alex prefers and admires strong female characters. Until she finds that One True Love, she spent much of her time moaning and moping–not very appealing in a main character.
Overall the book was a decent read, the above-mentioned distractions notwithstanding. The characters were otherwise rich and well-rounded, and the story moved along at a fairly steady pace. The descriptions of London really took me there. Though I liked the references to pop and geek culture, the constant use of brand names was a bit of a distraction as well … Perhaps a little too much description at times? Nothing to soil the flow of the story, though.
I would recommend this book to anyone who feels left out or bossed around. The messages about finding out who your true friends are and finding your place in the world are powerful and well thought out. Besides, what nerdy girl wouldn’t want to read about another nerdy girl trying to make it on her own abroad in her favorite city?