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…