Review: My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal

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I’ve been thinking for several days about how to review this book.  It’s not that it isn’t good, which it is.  It’s just one of those stories that is hard to describe, hard to recommend to people without giving away too much of the story.

Leon’s life has not been easy.  His mom is an addict, and his dad is in prison.  But still, he’s a good kid. He helps his mom out more than a child should, especially when it comes to taking care of his baby brother.  That’s not enough to keep them out of trouble, though. When his mom finally gives in to her demons, Leon and Jake find themselves taken away and placed into a foster home.

As foster homes go, it’s a good one.  Maureen is kind and caring even at her advanced age.  Leon would probably be happy staying with her indefinitely.  There’s a little hitch in that plan, however.  Baby Jake is adopted, and Leon finds himself missing his brother terribly.  And when Maureen gets sick, things go from bad to worse.  He’s determined to find his brother, and he becomes angry when he can’t.

Set in the late 70s/early 80s, the story mirrors the racial unrest of the time.  As a black child with a white brother, Leon knows that things are different for him.  He just can’t understand why.  It’s a sad story, makes your heart hurt for a child to go through so much. Quick and easy to read, hard to forget.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  My Name is Leon