Talk

Advanced search

August Book of the month: My Name is Leon by Kit De Waal - Join the author webchat on Wednesday 6 September, 9pm

(125 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 25-Jul-17 11:58:40

Our August book of the month is My Name is Leon, Kit De Waal's brilliant debut about a little boy whose mother is no longer capable of caring for him and his baby brother. Touching and thought-provoking, this novel will tug on your heart strings – and raise questions about family, friendship and identity.

You can find out more about the book. Even if you didn't win a copy, you can grab a copy to read over the summer. Kit De Waal joins us for a webchat at 9pm on Wednesday 6 September

Buy the book from Amazon

BouncingJellyfish Mon 04-Sep-17 14:42:55

Just finished this book. It had me in tears. I was really rooting for Leon. I really wanted him to have a happy life. What inspired you to write this book? Was it from any personal experience?

mumofmadboys Tue 05-Sep-17 07:49:24

Thank you MN for my copy. I really enjoyed reading it and it will live with me for some time to come. It is horrifying to think how children were treated in the 80's and you hope it is a bit better now. How sad to split up two brothers. It also shows how the foster care system is far from perfect. What inspired you to write the story Kit?

jonniesmum Tue 05-Sep-17 09:21:47

Enjoyed the book and the style was easy to read.

HannahLI Tue 05-Sep-17 13:46:07

I have been enjoying and yet so emotionally moved and heart broken by this book. A story that I felt needed to be told. I have been very impacted by the fact that sometimes as adults we think we are saying the right thing or helping a young person but actually we aren't we are doing the very opposite. I was very moved at times by Leon's response to being seperated from his brother, by the injustice of the situation, his inability to communicate and emotional express his anxiety and desperation at the situation that faced him. Its lovely that some of the most unlikely people have embraced him and encouraged him. I am looking forward to hearing more from Kit De Waal tomorrow!

bellabelly Tue 05-Sep-17 14:43:35

I absolutely loved reading this book - the subject matter sounded very grim so I was surprised by how much humour and sweetness was in the writing. It really shows how great kids can be badly let down by the adult world and some parts were just heart-breaking, like the two brothers being split up as Leon was not young enough or white enough for the adopting parents. I'd like to ask Kit where she got the idea for the allotment characters who had such an impact on Leon?

Paloolah Tue 05-Sep-17 16:47:23

I really enjoyed this, particularly the touching relationship between Leon and his little brother and that between Leon and Maureen. Thank goodness for the Maureens of this world!

I'd like to ask Kit why you chose to set the book at exactly the time you did - was it in order to weave in the dramatic action of the Brixton riots? Or did anything change for the better in the world of social work/adoption shortly afterwards?

BetterEatCheese Tue 05-Sep-17 19:23:00

I took this book on holiday with me and it was a real treat. I absolutely loved it and Kit’s style of writing. I felt that it conjured up such rich images and I felt that the characters were very well rounded, believable and very easy to empathise with. The view from Leon’s perspective was beautifully done and Kit captured the fleeting and confused nature of childhood thought and understanding, how it picks and chooses and clings to what adults would likely see as insignificant, or skips over things the adult world would regard as momentous. The relationships Leon had and the impacts of these on his life and how they developed and fed him with what he needed or pushed him into places he found difficult were very well written.
It is clear that Kit writes from a place of knowledge and the heartbreak which floods these pages is clearly very real. The story is one of ups and downs and I was pleased to see what looked like a happy ending or even beginning for Leon. The way the characters are all in his life as a unit, as a makeshift family in the end, is wonderful. I hope many children in his situation have such tough, real, imperfect, strong people who come together to provide something stable and fight their corners.

I would like to know if Kit's characters were based on people she knew. I am thinking in particular of her links to allotments as they seemed very real and likeable and the allotment life portrayed rang true to me in many ways.

Reastie Tue 05-Sep-17 19:56:48

I'm out tomorrow eve for web chat so posting my thoughts/question now.

Really enjoyed this. It was set in the year I was born and it was interesting to get a feel for what it was like at that time and loved seeing the story through the eyes of a child and found it very poignant.

I'd like to ask Kit did you get the idea to write a novel involving the care system and adoption because you have adopted yourself? And did you find it difficult to write from the mindset of a 9 year old mixed race boy?

Punkatheart Tue 05-Sep-17 20:35:44

Can commit to this and looking forward to reading the chat tomorrow and getting my own question ready!

Feelslikecrystal Tue 05-Sep-17 20:58:32

Finished the book a couple of weeks ago and it has stayed with me since. My parents are foster carers and the book really (for me) felt like a true reflection on how it is for lots of foster kids, obviously I'll never know but it seemed so in touch, understanding and real.I

I felt connected with Leon and was routing for him all the way to make the best of his situation.

I'd be really keen to read more by Kit.

Thank you for such an engaging and touching book.

Feelslikecrystal Tue 05-Sep-17 21:04:01

Forgot to ask my questions - is there any more books on the way? And how did you cope working within child protection as it must have been an emotionally challenging environment?

alialiath Wed 06-Sep-17 00:19:36

A poignant thought provoking read, that made me angry that child neglect happens, and that the siblings were separated.

The brothers were taken into care where they were separated, despite promises to the contrary Jake was adopted after a short time because he was a cute white baby, while Leon who was older and mixed race remained with Maureen the kindly foster carer.

It's terribly sad that a vulnerable child taken into care, not only loses his mother, unstable as she was, but this home, his father, the the neighbour Tina, and her baby Bobby who kept an eye out for Leon and his mum Carol, but he lost his baby brother that he adored.

Looking forward to the web chat with Kit de Waal , and to hear other thoughts on the book.

duggerlugs Wed 06-Sep-17 05:56:49

The book was a poignant read. The innocence of the story through a child's eyes didn't detract from the tough and emotional subject matter if anything made it all the more heart breaking.
I've not had much experience with anyone from a foster system so the insight and reading others feedback left me sad and angry this behaviour happens. It was a well written and thought provoking book..told in a superb way. I'm glad I read alone as i shed a few tears along the way. Thanks for the opportunity to read. I couldn't make the web chat as my 2 nearly 3 year old was in the throes of threenager behaviour and bed time escaped her!

hobbska Wed 06-Sep-17 09:25:54

Really looking forward to the web chat tonight! I thought the book was very well written and I was hooked (Staying up well past my bedtime to try and finish it!)

aristocat Wed 06-Sep-17 14:26:50

I'm also looking forward to being involved this evening.
I read my book whilst on holiday - I loved it and would be happy to read more about Leon.

SallySwann Wed 06-Sep-17 17:29:18

I'd like to ask what inspiration Kit took for writing largely through a child's eyes? I think it worked brilliantly and certainly added humour to what could have been a very heavy subject. I thought it was interesting that the story was set in the 80s, so was there any particular reason for this? I must say how I enjoyed the various characterisations, all of whom seemed so real. I particularly enjoyed Lion's outings to the allotment and the love/hate relationships he encountered there.

aristocat Wed 06-Sep-17 20:44:59

I'd like to ask if there'll be another book with Leon as a young adult smile
I would like him to find his brother.
Fabulous book and loved all the characters especially the allotment crew.

Belo Wed 06-Sep-17 20:45:23

Hello Kit. 

I’ll start by saying how much I liked the book.  I thought you got Leon’s voice right.  It felt like it was a bright child telling his story, rather than an adult writing about him.  But, at one point I almost gave up.  I feared the ending would be too depressing  so I almost abandoned it.  But, (SPOILER ALERT), my worst fears were not realised and (soppy woman that I am) I liked the fact that there was some romance for Sylvia at the end.  All in all, I found it a sort of happy ending. 

Whilst reading it, I kept wondering if this was based on a true story, and if so, do you know if the brothers have been able to get back in touch with each other?  

KitdeWaal Wed 06-Sep-17 21:00:02

Hello everyone, it's great to be here!

I've just been reading through some of the questions on this thread - really interesting! Quite a few themes emerging already that I'm looking forward to discussing with you all smile

Givemecoffeeplease Wed 06-Sep-17 21:00:28

This book is AMAZING. I'm a mum of two boys and I sobbed. My Q- would you return to the story and tell us where they both ended up? I'd love to see them as teens.

(But please make them happy!!)

barricade Wed 06-Sep-17 21:01:00

A really well written book, which I shared my thoughts on last month.

I'd like to ask Kit a couple of general questions, if I may ..

* --> Do you have a personal favourite book/s?

* --> There’s a film named ‘Detroit’ currently being screened in cinemas which also contains themes and events, e.g. riots fuelled by racial injustice, similar to the ones described in your book. I think ‘My Name Is Leon’ would also make for an interesting film or TV adaptation. If this were a possibility, how would you feel about your work in 'other people's hands', and would you feel compelled to intervene with a ‘do’s and don’t’ instructions list for producers?

smile

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 06-Sep-17 21:01:26

Welcome to everyone this evening. It's great to see so many people have enjoyed My Name is Leon over the Summer and we're really looking forward to the opportunity to chat this evening with author Kit De Waal.

A warm welcome to Mumsnet Kit and congratulations on such a brilliant book; I think we'll all agree Mumsnet bookclub's favourite debut this year. Over to you...

KitdeWaal Wed 06-Sep-17 21:01:56

KitdeWaal

Hello everyone, it's great to be here!

I've just been reading through some of the questions on this thread - really interesting! Quite a few themes emerging already that I'm looking forward to discussing with you all smile

It wasn't b

Belo

Hello Kit.

I’ll start by saying how much I liked the book. I thought you got Leon’s voice right. It felt like it was a bright child telling his story, rather than an adult writing about him. But, at one point I almost gave up. I feared the ending would be too depressing so I almost abandoned it. But, (SPOILER ALERT), my worst fears were not realised and (soppy woman that I am) I liked the fact that there was some romance for Sylvia at the end. All in all, I found it a sort of happy ending.

Whilst reading it, I kept wondering if this was based on a true story, and if so, do you know if the brothers have been able to get back in touch with each other?

Hello Belo! No, Leon isn't based on a true story nor on a true boy although alot of people ask me this. It is however based on the truth that siblings of differing ages and ethnicities are often split up and lose contact with each other. It was happening back in 1981 and it's still happens today. Sometimes for good reason but always at a cost to the children involved.

jonniesmum Wed 06-Sep-17 21:02:43

A question for Kit - the book deals with topics that I guess are very close to your heart such as racism and the foster system but where did you find the inspiration for Leon's voice?

BetterEatCheese Wed 06-Sep-17 21:02:44

Evening Kit!

Join the discussion

Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Get started »