Title: The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly
Author: Jamie Pacton
Release Date: May 5, 2020
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers for an eARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review!
Kit Sweetly slays sexism, bad bosses, and bad luck to become a knight at a medieval-themed restaurant.
Working as a wench―i.e. waitress―at a cheesy medieval-themed restaurant in the Chicago suburbs, Kit Sweetly dreams of being a knight like her brother. She has the moves, is capable on a horse, and desperately needs the raise that comes with knighthood, so she can help her mom pay the mortgage and hold a spot at her dream college.
Company policy allows only guys to be knights. So when Kit takes her brother’s place and reveals her identity at the end of the show, she rockets into internet fame and a whole lot of trouble with the management. But the Girl Knight won’t go down without a fight. As other wenches join her quest, a protest forms. In a joust before Castle executives, they’ll prove that gender restrictions should stay medieval―if they don’t get fired first.
I am loving this wave of feminist rom com books that have been hitting the shelves lately. They’re tackling gender norms and having diverse casts of characters all while still have that bit of swoony romance.
Kit wants nothing more to be a knight at the restaurant she works at. She’s been training for years with her older brother Chris who acts as the red knight in the shows, but because of her gender she’s not even allowed to try out and is stuck as a serving wench. Like her title is literally wench; how sexist is that? Kit knows her medieval history though and there were female knights, plus this is the 21st century and there should no longer be any gender restrictions on jobs. After swapping places with her brother one night and revealing herself as a girl, she suddenly becomes on online sensation. Kit uses her newfound fame to assemble anyone who wants to be knight and show corporate just how outdated and sexist their policies are.
While becoming a knight and the feminist agenda makes up a large part of this book, there was so much going on behind this grand scheme Kit has assembled. We’ve got family issues, financial issues, college possibilities and her possibly having a crush on her best friend Jett all while trying to help her diverse group of friends be knighted.
Kit’s family, minus her dad and uncle, were so close knit and supportive. They are poor, like steal toilet paper and napkins from a restaurant and keep a cooler under the table for when the power gets shut off poor. I feel like this just brought them closer together though and as long as they had each other their lives would be okay. Chris was such an amazing big brother, supportive of Kit and her dreams and truly her biggest fan.
One of the best things about this book was the representation and inclusion. We have Alex who goes by they/them pronouns and Penny who is transgender along with a F/F and interracial relationship. While these inclusion were great, I felt like we didn’t really get to know the characters. I couldn’t really tell you anything about them and they were a shadow of what they could’ve been.
I did feel like Kit was kind of a crappy friend though, which was brought up but after a sappy moment at the end was kind of just forgotten? She took the spotlight for herself and while she did include them on the website and her final stand she kept some big things from them. What really bugged me though was that the website created to help feed into the buzz generated some income that while started because of Kit, was fueled by her friends and their training videos and she never even considered giving them part of the income. I get she’s poor and her family is struggling, but I felt like that money should have been divided up.
There is a tiny bit of romance that felt like just the right amount for this story. Jett and Kit have been close for years and their friendship was everything. He was always there for her from supporting her journey to becoming a knight to slipping her extra food because he knows her at home situation. He was never judgmental nor did he ever question her aspirations. I loved their moments together and the will-they-won’t-they tension.
Overall I really enjoyed following Kit on her journey to bring gender equality to her medieval restaurant with her diverse cast of friends and supportive family. It was such an empowering read and I’m so excited that teens will have access to stories like this and heroines like Kit to look up to.
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