Book Review – My Name is Leon by Kit De Waal…

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. Evoking a 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.
The story starts off as Leon’s little brother is born. It shows us how family dynamics can change at a moments notice and those dynamics can sometimes be things that break your heart.
Nine year old Leon is our story teller. You feel for him so much. This book is, at times, so desperately sad that you could weep. The roller coaster of emotions are beautifully written and you feel every single one of them with our young protagonist. Every single one.
I loved this book. It gives you hope that things that are broken can be mended and even when you think all is lost, there is someone there to help you find your way. All you have to do is look.
A five out of five star read.
I’m profoundly grateful to Netgalley and to Penguin for my copy.

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