A brother chosen. A brother left behind. And the only way home is to find him.
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 take Jake away and give him to strangers. Because 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 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 somehow manage to find our way home.
My Name is Leon really surprised me; I didn’t know what to expect but I certainly didn’t think I’d feel so many emotions through a 250 page (approx.) book!
The author has created such a loveable character in Leon, and I certainly fell in love with him. As he’s only 9 years’ old the world that Kit De Waal creates around him seems, at first, very innocent, but as his life continues and he realises the unfairness of life, you notice how he becomes disillusioned and angry – and I don’t blame him!
In fact, every character is so well crafted; I loved Maureen, Sylvia, Tufty and Mr Devlin too, each in their own charming ways. They all seem like so well-defined but wonderful characters, and to be honest I just wanted to read more about them!
The story takes the reader on so many highs and lows, but always with plenty of humour (some of which Leon doesn’t seem to pick up on and seems to go over Leon’s head) which stops it being too glum. You’re always very aware of what a hard life Leon has, and probably will always have to be honest. It really makes you think about how your start in life can affect so much.
I really enjoyed this novel; it could be suited for a slightly younger audience too, really, as it’s written from Leon’s point of view… though there is some bad language so perhaps not too young an audience! It’s all written with so wonderfully that I found it a delight to read, despite being sad at times. Highly recommended.