Thursday, 13 April 2017

My Name Is Leon by Kit de Waal Paperback #BlogTour @KitdeWaal @PenguinUKBooks

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.

Welcome to the Blog Tour for the paperback release of My Name Is Leon by Kit de Waal which was published by Penguin on 6 April 2017.

I read and reviewed My Name Is Leon on Random Things back in May 2016, and I enjoyed it very much: here's my review:

Kit de Waal has packed so much into this beautiful novel. It's just over 250 pages long and has such an emotional impact. I fell in love with Leon on the very first page, just as Leon himself was falling in love with his new-born baby brother Jake.

It is the never wavering, total immersive love that Leon feels for Jake that screams out from this story the most. Life is not easy for Leon, his dad left some time ago, his mum either goes out and leave him alone, or takes to her bed for long periods. Loving baby Jake is not only Leon's instinct, he feels that it's his duty too. Just as he does his best to look after his mum.

But Leon is only ten years old, despite the fact that he's stocky for his age, and people often mistake him for an older boy. He's just ten, and caring for a tiny baby and a mum who is struggling becomes too much for him. Caring but concerned neighbour Tina finally has to inform someone, and Leon and Jake go to live with Maureen.

When Jake is taken away to live with new parents, because it's easier to find a new family for a white baby than to find anyone who wants to give Leon a new home, and it's because Leon is not white.

Set in 1980, Kit de Waal has captured the era perfectly. With a backdrop of a Royal Wedding, racial tension and disrupted streets, along with Curly Wurlys and a BMX, My Name is Leon is so very very authentic.

The author writes with authority and compassion, with a heavy dose of wit and humour that avoids the book turning into the bleak and depressing. Her characters are vivid and honest and beautifully created, there are many to fall in love with; Maureen, Tufty, Slyvia, each one of them are genuine and perfectly created.

Leon's story is heart-breaking at times. He's seen and heard far too much in his short life, yet retains an innocence that defines him. He feels unwanted inside, yet he comes across a community of people who accept him for who he is, with no question, and the developing relationships are tenderly nurtured by the author.

Leon is a character to cherish. My Name is Leon is a book to savour and to remember, and Kit de Waal is most certainly a very talented author, one to watch in the future.

If you haven't read My Name Is Leon yet, I'd recommend you go out and get yourself a paperback edition straight away, I can assure you that you won't be disappointed!

The book has had so much praise and nominations for various awards since it was published last year in hardback.


Tender and heart-breaking (Rachel Joyce, bestselling author of 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry')

A beautiful story told with compassion, urgency and wit (Stephen Kelman, author of the Booker-shortlisted 'Pigeon English')

Vivid and endearing - a very powerful book (Emma Healey, bestselling author of 'Elizabeth is Missing')

Leon is pure goodwill in a wicked world, and he won't leave you when you put this unique book down. Authentic and beautiful, urgent and honest, this novel does what only the best do: it quietly makes room in your heart. At the end of the story I couldn't bear to close the book on Leon. I felt I was abandoning him. I wanted to talk about it straight away with someone else who'd read it, and I know a great many readers will feel the same. (Chris Cleave, bestselling author of 'The Other Hand')

Beautiful and heartbreaking - I cried buckets of tears for Leon and his family (Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of 'The Last Act of Love')

A compelling story... Kit de Waal is to be congratulated (Jane Shemilt, bestselling author of 'Daughter')

Hotly anticipated and heartbreaking... a great's no mean feat for a debut to so perfectly capture the world through the eyes of a child...his illuminating child's eye view of adult affairs harks back to the likes of Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird, Tom Sawyer and more recently Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (Mariella Frostrup, BBC Radio 4)

The unforgettable story of a boy struggling to belong, and the author captures both his mindset and the period impeccably. Heartbreaking and uplifting - just read it (Daily Mail)

My debut of the year so far...heartbreaking and warm at the same time (Stylist)

A funny, sad and endearing debut (Psychologies)

Searing (The Times)

Everything in My Name Is Leon rings true. It's an everyday story and this actually makes it more powerful: these are the lows and joys of real life. Someone will be living them as you read (Emerald Street)

A touching, thought-provoking debut (Guardian)

Powerful and gorgeously written...may make you cry, but it's also uplifting and full of hope (Good Housekeeping)

Heart-breaking yet told with wit and compassion - I loved it (Woman and Home)

Full of small exquisite details, de Waal's novel is ultimately affirmative. But be warned - it's a bit of a weepie (Metro)

Deeply moving, compulsively readable and, despite the heart-rending subject matter, often funny (Irish Times)

Kit de Waal was born in Birmingham to an Irish mother and Caribbean father and worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law. She has been awarded the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize in both 2014 and 2015, the SI Leeds Literary Reader's Choice Prize 2014, and second place in both the Costa Short Story Award 2014 and the Bath Short Story Award 2014. Her short stories, 'The Beautiful Thing' and 'Adrift at the Athena' have also been produced for BBC Radio 4.
#MyNameIsLeon is her first novel.

Follow her on Twitter @KitdeWaal

Find out lots more about the author and her work at

1 comment:

  1. Great review. I was hooked after just the synopsis but you've made it sound even more interesting.