Author: Kit De Waal
Title: My Name is Leon
Prizes: Shortlisted for Costa First Novel Prize
Date of publication: 2016
Date of purchase: November 2018
Price of purchase: £2.49
Reading time: 3 days
Well if anyone had told me that a book about a nine year old boy who goes into care because his mother can’t look after him and who gets separated from his baby brother who he loves dearly was going to be uplifting I’d have slapped them in that face and called them a liar. Not really but you get the point. This was a lovely book and it actually was quite uplifting.
It’s about a boy who’s childish joy has been extinguished too young and who has been betrayed by adults too many times but it somehow only made me cry a couple of times (ok maybe a few times). Most importantly this book felt honest.
I’m quite tired and can’t think of how to end this review without giving away massive book ruining spoilers. I’m new at this I’m very sorry but please read this book if you haven’t and if you have or if you know you won’t please continue reading this very loose blogger’s review.
It doesn’t have a happy ending in the expected sense. There is no grand reunion, there is no miraculous recovery from drug addiction. Racism is not cured. However, it’s not all bad. Leon’s voice gives the novel an innocence which is at once heartbreaking and incredibly endearing. His attitude to the world around him is so beautifully constructed by De Waal that it is hard to imagine he is wrong in any way. There are no moments where she imposes an adult’s rationality or knowledge onto him and I think that is part of why the novel is so moving.