I’d heard this books name mentioned quite frequently and was keen to read it so first of all thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for my ARC.
My Name is Leon is a heartbreaking story about a 9 year old mixed race boy who lives in a maisonette with his mother and his baby brother who is white. His father is on the run after committing an unknown crime and his little brother’s dad has no interest in being part of their lives. Leon’s mum Carol has mental health issues and although Leon does his best to hide this and look after the house and baby they are eventually found out and the brothers go to live in foster care. Jake a white baby is adopted but Leon an older boy and mixed race is not.
The novel is set in a turbulent period around the early 80s. There are riots in the street as black people fight for freedom from racism and unknowingly Leon is swept up into this. The story documents his life from Leon’s own POV as he struggles to understand and come to terms with what is happening both inside his family as he is separated from both his mother and the little brother he loves so dearly and everything that is going on around him as streets of shops are vandalised and black men are dragged away and beaten by police.
The story wrenches at the heart strings as the author offers a unique perspective on a young and troubled boy. Instead of seeing the stealing and vandalising and sneaking around as bad behaviour the reader is able to see the dangerous cocktail of feelings which provoke Leon to do what he does and how he tries to keep his head above water in a world he does not understand, among adults who do not understand him.