Charming but realistic, moving but full of hope.
The standard of the writing and storytelling in this book is so high, it’s hard to believe this is Kit de Waal’s first novel. And telling the story from the point of view of a nine-year-old child isn’t the easiest of things for an adult novelist to do. However, this author makes it look easy and it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Leon telling his story.
The events in Leon’s young life could add up to a rather grim tale. But while there are definitely sad and poignant moments, because we’re seeing everything through Leon’s eyes, it never gets too much.
Leon is in foster care because of parental neglect. He likes his foster carer but all he really wants is to be back with his mum and his baby brother. Because of his age he is naively hopeful that he’ll be able to achieve his dream. So he hatches a plan.
Throughout Leon’s quest he’s aided and befriended by a cast of the most unlikely helpers – people not normally to be found in the role of guardian angels.
It all adds up to a charming, believable and moving read.
I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Genre: Adult Contemporary Fiction
Back Cover Blurb: A brother chosen. A brother left behind. And a family where you’d least expect to find one.
Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers. Since Jake is white and Leon is not.
As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile – like Curly Wurlys, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum.
Evoking a Britain of the early eighties, My Name is Leon is a heart-breaking story of love, identity and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Of the fierce bond between siblings. And how – just when we least expect it – we manage to find our way home.
My Name is Leon is published by Penguin and is available as a hardback, paperback, ebook and audio book.