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Book Reviews

Growing new lives with inner city gardens: My Name is Leon

A review from our book reviewer Jo, this time from her own blog Floralia (which is well worth following!).

My Name Is Leon is a beautifully written story of mixed race fostering and adoption, set in 1981; a year of heightened tension between Britain’s black communities and the police, that led to uprisings in Toxteth, Handsworth and a number of other cities, including Manchester’s Moss Side. Fascinating to read this moment in history through young Leon’s eyes.

This book isn’t in our collection, but is available at most of the Manchester Libraries sites.

Floralia

My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal, Penguin Books: 2017 (first published by Viking: 2016)

Sometimes all that ten-year-old Leon possesses is his name.

So, much of his time is spent accumulating or enumerating the items that actually belong to him. But this is no mercenary acquisitiveness. He needs things with which to build a new life together with his baby brother, Jake, who is adopted into a new family – without Leon.

As the momentum of the novel picks up, with its gritty realist detail and layering of overlapping worlds, these items range from the toys he receives as Christmas presents, mainly from social workers (Dukes of Hazzard Racing Set, Meccano set, Action Man Cherilea Amphibious Jeep with trailer) to household provisions that he gathers together himself – baby food, tins, a bag of sugar, a blanket.

The novel charts a year in Leon’s life in which he…

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By aiucentre

An open access library specialising in the study of race, ethnicity and migration. Part of the University of Manchester and based at Manchester Central Library. www.racearchive.manchester.ac.uk.

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