My Name Is Leon (Hardback)Kit de Waal (author)
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‘I’m your brother,’ says Leon. ‘Big brother.’
The baby doesn’t say anything back.
‘Big. Brother.’ Says Leon. ‘My. Name. Is. Leon. I am eight and three quarters. I am a boy.’
The baby stretches himself out to say he understands.
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.
Brilliantly evoking the 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.
Already noted as a writer of short fiction, Kit de Waal was inspired by her own mother’s work as a foster carer as well as a career working in family and criminal law to write this heartfelt and moving first novel. Told from the point of view of a child My Name is Leon is a moving story about families; the ones we’re born to and those we choose.
‘A moving and thought-provoking debut novel’ – The Guardian
'Unforgettable, heartbreaking and uplifting - just read it' Daily Mail 'My debut of the year so far...heartbreaking and warm at the same time' - Stylist
'Authentic and beautiful, urgent and honest, this novel does what only the best do: it quietly makes room in your heart' - Chris Cleave, bestselling author of The Other Hand
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Number of pages: 272
Weight: 348 g
Dimensions: 204 x 136 x 26 mm
Tender and heart-breaking -- Rachel Joyce, bestselling author of 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry'
A beautiful story told with compassion, urgency and wit -- Stephen Kelman, author of the Booker-shortlisted 'Pigeon English'
Vivid and endearing - a very powerful book -- Emma Healey, bestselling author of 'Elizabeth is Missing'
Leon is pure goodwill in a wicked world, and he won't leave you when you put this unique book down. Authentic and beautiful, urgent and honest, this novel does what only the best do: it quietly makes room in your heart. At the end of the story I couldn't bear to close the book on Leon. I felt I was abandoning him. I wanted to talk about it straight away with someone else who'd read it, and I know a great many readers will feel the same. -- Chris Cleave, bestselling author of 'The Other Hand'
Beautiful and heartbreaking - I cried buckets of tears for Leon and his family -- Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of 'The Last Act of Love'
A compelling story... Kit de Waal is to be congratulated -- Jane Shemilt, bestselling author of 'Daughter'
Hotly anticipated and heartbreaking... a great read...it's no mean feat for a debut to so perfectly capture the world through the eyes of a child...his illuminating child's eye view of adult affairs harks back to the likes of Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird, Tom Sawyer and more recently Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime -- Mariella Frostrup, BBC Radio 4
The unforgettable story of a boy struggling to belong, and the author captures both his mindset and the period impeccably. Heartbreaking and uplifting - just read it * Daily Mail *
My debut of the year so far...heartbreaking and warm at the same time * Stylist *
A funny, sad and endearing debut * Psychologies *
Searing * The Times *
Everything in My Name Is Leon rings true. It's an everyday story and this actually makes it more powerful: these are the lows and joys of real life. Someone will be living them as you read * Emerald Street *
A touching, thought-provoking debut * Guardian *
Powerful and gorgeously written...may make you cry, but it's also uplifting and full of hope * Good Housekeeping *
Heart-breaking yet told with wit and compassion - I loved it * Woman and Home *
Full of small exquisite details, de Waal's novel is ultimately affirmative. But be warned - it's a bit of a weepie * Metro *
Deeply moving, compulsively readable and, despite the heart-rending subject matter, often funny * Irish Times *
The voice of Leon is distinctive, beguiling and ultimately compelling, resonant of the young narrators in Room or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time * RTE Guide *
Searing * T2 *
Beguiling, tender, funny, compassionate ... entirely heartbreaking without being bleak * Sunday Express *
Conjures the plight of children in care - and the Britain of the 1980s - with heartbreaking intensity * Harpers Bazaar *
It's a wonderful book. I really enjoyed it. It is extremely affecting -- Toby Lichtig
I think My Name is Leon is a really stand out novel -- Alex Clark
Simply told and never over-written * Emerald Street Top 10 Books of the Year *
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“Poignant and Insightful”
My Name is Leon is a brilliant debut from Kit De Waal that masterfully crafts the naïve yet nuanced internalisations of a young boy, whilst illustrating the complex backdrop of 1980s Britain.
To write from the... More
“Heartbreaking but lovely ”
If I could do half ratings, this would be more of a 3.5 than a solid 4. I did have a good old cry in the early stages of the book, Leon's situation was absolutely terrible and it felt so much harder knowing that... More
“A lion-hearted book”
The central character in Kit de Waal's My Name is Leon is a child who finds himself in the care system in the early 1980s. His mother seems to suffer from serious post-natal mental health problems after his... More
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