This year's selected title is My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal. With such strong competition, it was hard to know just which way the choice would go but My Name is Leon was an overwhelming success with members of the Selection Committee who believe this is a book that can be appreciated by all of our students and staff, new and current, alike.

Kit will also be joining us in October for two author events. We hope you will join us there.

My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal

My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal

Leon isn't in control of this world where adults say one thing and mean another, and try as he might he can't protect his little family from everything. When their mother falls victim to her inner demons, strangers suddenly take Jake away; after all, a white baby is easy to adopt, while a half-black nine-year-old faces a less certain fate. Vowing to get Jake back by any means necessary, Leon's own journey--on his brand-new BMX bike--will carry him through the lives of a doting but ailing foster mother, Maureen; Maureen's cranky and hilarious sister, Sylvia; a social worker Leon knows only as "The Zebra"; and a colourful community of local gardeners and West Indian political activists.

Told through the perspective of nine-year-old Leon, too innocent to entirely understand what has happened to him and baby Jake, but determined to do what he can to make things right, he stubbornly, endearingly struggles his way through a system much larger than he can tackle on his own. My Name Is Leon is a vivid, gorgeous, and uplifting story about the power of love, the unbreakable bond between brothers, and the truth about what, in the end, ultimately makes a family.

About Kit de Waal

Portrait of Kit de Waal by Justine Stoddart

My Name is Leon is Kit's first novel, after having written several award-winning short stories. She was born and raised in Birmingham to her Irish foster-carer mother and Caribbean father and grew up to work in both criminal and family law for fifteen years. She has also worked as advisor to the Social Services in writing manuals on the care of foster children. Whilst raising her two adopted children, she also went on to gain her MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University as well as setting up The Kit de Waal Creative Writing Scholarship through Birkbeck, University of London.

"My Name is Leon is a truly extraordinary novel by a major new talent in British fiction, and I'm thrilled that the KU Big Read have chosen to share it with their students."
Venetia Butterfield, Publishing Director

Other titles by Kit

Know Your Place: Essays on the Working Class by the Working Class Estimated publication date September 2017. Support it on Kickstarter
Protest! (a short story anthology) due for release May 25th 2017
The Sea in Birminham (a short story anthology) 2013