A story about of racial and social injustice, but also about love.

My Name is Leon

Kit de Waal


20th February 2018

7:00 pm

at il libro

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My Name is Leon is a moving story of a child’s desperate desire to keep his fractured family together in early 1980s Britain. Leon’s West Indian father vanished years before, on the run from the police. His brother's dad is little better, a married man only interested in his mother, Carol, for sex. Unable to accept his rejection, Carol spirals into a depression that leaves no space for her two boys. When social services are inevitably called by a neighbour and the boys placed in foster care, Carol runs away. Leon and Jake, his brother, go to live with the matronly Maureen, a no-nonsense foster mum whose kindness helps Leon adjust to life without his mother.

The theme of carefulness – and carelessness – permeates this novel. It’s a visceral story of racial and social injustice, sensitively capturing the emotions of Leon, whose anger and grief are manifested in nightmares of fighting monsters. The author portrays the pain of being parted from a sibling, the sense of being an outsider, and the search for love and belonging.

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. Kit de Waal has crafted her characters with such care that the reader, too, cannot help but care.

De Waal, who was born in Birmingham to an Irish mother and Caribbean father, worked as a magistrate for 15 years in criminal and family law. She has been awarded the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize, the SI Leeds Literary Reader’s Choice Prize, and second place in both the Costa Short Story Award and the Bath Short Story Award.

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