‘My Name is Leon’ by Kit de Waal

Leon loves his baby brother Jake. When their mum gets ill, and can’t get out of bed for days on end, it is Leon who takes care of Jake, who feeds him, cleans him, and cuddles him when he cries. No-one is as good at looking after Jake as Leon is. But when their mum gets so ill that they can’t live with her anymore, and Jake and Leon are taken into foster care, some of the grown-ups start to say that the brothers should be separated; that baby Jake might have a better chance in life if he goes to live with a new family on his own, since he is white, and Leon isn’t…

Set in 1980s London, My Name is Leon is heart-breaking and beautiful. I completely fell in love with Leon, and his frustrations, injustices, and rages felt as raw and real to me as any of my own. The book raises important questions about our care system, about race, and about loss, but never resorts to cliché, retaining a fresh and authentic toe throughout. This is a real book, with real heart. A must-read.

kit de waal
Kit de Waal

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