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.
Shona's review 5 of 5 stars
From the moment I read just half of this blurb I knew I wanted to read this story. However I didn't really think it through properly... This book is Leon's story. Leon who is almost 9 when this story begins, and told with Leon's voice, and at first I struggled with that. It didn't take long though for me to realise that the only way to write this book was from Leon's POV and it would have been ridiculous to give him an adult voice. What we get instead is a front row seat of a 9 year old boys mind, filled with all the worry and fears that his situation brings.
Because this book is told from Leon's POV there are certain scenes where he clearly doesn't understand what's going on, as the reader you only know what he knows, but there are tiny snippets of information dotted about that give you an idea of the bigger picture. Scenes that will leave you feeling like you have had your heart ripped out, or sat reading in fear. De Waal has done an amazing job with this, not just telling Leon's story, but incorporating real life events into this story. The addition of the Royal wedding and the London riots added a real depth to the story. not to mention providing that nail biting scene were I was sure Leon was going to get himself an injury he couldn't walk off.
Right from the beginning I knew this book was going to be one that required tissues. There were so many times in this book that my heart broke for Leon, places where I kind of wished I could just close my kindle and walk away from the heart ache. But I just couldn't help myself. I needed to read on.