Another book that I was so lucky to be given during my work experience this summer at Penguin. I feel guilty that it took me this long to get around to reading it, but then, I did manage to read it before it was even published, so I guess I still win? It took me a mere three days to read, in between essays and journals for uni, it was so nice to dip into under my duvet as the rain poured.
My Name is Leon is a touching, heartwarming story about little Leon who lives with his mum, Carol, and his new baby brother Jake, who only he can really look after. Because Carol is unfit to look after her sons, Leon and baby Jake are taken to live with Maureen, where the adults speak in low voices and make Pretend faces. And one day, Jake is taken to live with strangers whilst Leon gets left behind – because Jake is white and Leon is not.
The story is beautifully written through Leon’s eyes as he struggles to understand the changes in his life, why Jake was taken away from him and why he can’t see him or Carol anymore. de Waal perfectly captures the mind of a 9-year-old, without it becoming too cloying at times; it is perfectly balanced between awareness and imagination, set against the backdrop of racism in 80s England.
It is a truly thoughtful novel and a wonderful debut, which takes a delicate and potentially bleak subject and injects it with enough heart to make it light and warm and perfectly endearing. It is an easy read with simple language, but sensitive prose and descriptions, which for me, as well as a solid and engaging story, is the mark of an excellent writer.
I am so pleased to have read this novel, particularly before the masses, because it means that when everyone else gets around to reading it I can gush and say ‘Oh yes, I’ve read that and it was wonderful!’ I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and immediately recommended it to friends to put on their TBR 2016 list, which I would recommend to all of you as well!
Let me know if you think it sounds good in the comments below and if you’ll be putting it on your TBR list!
My Name is Leon, by Kit de Waal, is published by Viking in June 2016.