Thursday, 22 February 2018

My Name is Leon - Kit De Waal

A moving Story about a nine year old boy, race and politics.

I confess I had some preconceived notions. When I read the blurb and some of the reviews, I presumed it to be a heavy dose book. But it is not. It is a touching story, where humour and dark reality come in close contact.

Gist:
A nine year old boy meets his brother for the first time when he is born. As the story moves on, we learn this is a dysfunctional family with an absent father and a boy who becomes a carer for his mother and his brother. However, their circumstances change and we find ourselves moving around with Leon as he tries to make sense of everything around him. 

What works:
  • The narrative. The writing style makes it a page turner. Written from the nine year old boy's perspective, it is heartwarming and full of insight. Kids have their own way of making sense of the world, much different to an adult's. It is insightful and practical without becoming overdramatic. 
  • There is a dark side to it but then there are many happy moments too. I was filled with dread about what was going to happen to this vulnerable boy - hallmark of a well written novel.
  • Also, it provides an insight into the social care system and the people and the procedures that make it work. De Waal does a great job of shining light on it all. The fact that she has experience in the field is an added bonus. It gives an authentic sort of ring to it.
  • Love the way she weaves race into her story.  I couldn't help comparing her to Levy who writes on similar subject. But where Levy makes it the basis of her narrative, De Waal refers to race issues as part of her story along with its repercussions.
What doesn't:
  •  I loved the way the story panned out. It had me on the edge, even though it is not a thriller. The little boy I met on the first page, grew on me and I found myself looking out for him as he met new people on the way. Some might say, (without giving the plot away) that it is too chick lit and candy floss.
For me it was a life affirming read. A well written story which is told with humour and very insightful. Works brilliantly. I enjoy De Waal's writing and shall be looking out for her books more.

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