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My Name is Leon

by Kit De Waal

Leon is a loveable 8 year old caught up in a bewildering foster-care system. Against a background of racial tension in 1980’s London, issues of social inequality and cultural identity conspire to thwart his chances of being reunited with his beloved baby brother. Told from Leon’s perspective, this case history of childhood neglect and loss is heartrending without being mawkish and should be required reading for teachers and social workers.

Extract

Sylvia had come to his new school on Friday to see the headmistress and his new teacher. Leon couldn’t listen at the door because the school secretary was watching him. He had to sit still with nothing to do while the three voices in the next room talked about him. He knew what they were saying but he still wanted to hear. Eventually the door opened and he went inside. Teachers are like social workers, with lots of different pretend voices and smiles ....
Then his teacher started talking about effort and behaviour with a voice she kept specially for when parents and other teachers were around. All the time he was watching her twisting her wedding ring round and round on her finger because they both knew that Leon wasn't going to get any stars on his chart.

Parallels

The Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling
 

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