The Life and Medieval Times of Kit Sweetly

Page Street. May 2020. 384p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781624149528.
Gr 9 Up–Kit Sweetly is a serving wench at the local medieval-inspired dinner theater restaurant, the Castle. The term “wench” is not one she prefers, but it seems to be an unfortunate reality of her job. That, and the reality that the Castle continues to perpetuate stereotypical gender roles for its employees. Only cis men are permitted to be knights even when others are perfectly qualified, like Kit. One evening sets off a chain of events that could topple the patriarchy of the entire Castle corporation. Kit rides as a knight, becoming a social media sensation and inspiring her coworkers to start an underground training for a more diverse knight population. Besides being an agent for change, Kit is struggling with her mom and brother to make ends meet, applying to colleges, and slowly falling in love with one of her best friends. Although the cast includes bisexual, transgender, and nonbinary characters, the main character is straight and cisgender. The other characters seem to serve as background and the fuel to fire Kit’s motivation to change the Castle’s culture. Kit’s mission is one to be applauded and cheered on, but using nonbinary and transgender characters as underdeveloped background seems like a missed opportunity. Kit is a senior who is struggling with the college admissions process, yet she never actually seems to attend school. In fact, she seems to ignore school while handling everything else. Does this happen at times? Sure, but the lack of repercussions is notable.
VERDICT Overall, this novel is a strong voice for feminism and workplace equality. Fans of Rainbow Rowell will appreciate the relatable characters and a cause to root for.

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