Books by Kit de Waal

Without Warning and Only Sometimes (Tinder Press, 2022)

Kit de Waal grew up in a household of opposites and extremes. Her haphazard mother rarely cooked, forbade Christmas and birthdays, worked as a cleaner, nurse and childminder sometimes all at once and believed the world would end in 1975. Meanwhile, her father stuffed barrels full of goodies for his relatives in the Caribbean, cooked elaborate meals on a whim and splurged money they didn’t have on cars, suits and shoes fit for a prince. Both of her parents were waiting for paradise. It never came.

Caught between three worlds, Irish, Caribbean and British in 1960s Birmingham, Kit and her brothers and sisters knew all the words to the best songs, caught sticklebacks in jam jars and braved hunger and hellfire until they could all escape.

WITHOUT WARNING AND ONLY SOMETIMES is a story of an extraordinary childhood and how a girl who grew up in house where the Bible was the only book on offer went on to discover a love of reading that inspires her to this day.

Becoming Dinah (Orion Children’s Books, 2019)

Dinah’s whole world is upside down, dead things and angry men and cuts all over her head that are beginning to sting….

Seventeen-year-old Dinah needs to leave her home, the weird commune where she grew up. She needs a whole new identity, starting with how she looks, starting with shaving off her hair, her ‘crowning glory’. She has to do it quickly, because she has to go now.

Dinah was going to go alone and hitch a ride down south. Except, she ends up being persuaded to illegally drive a VW campervan for hundreds of miles, accompanied by a grumpy man with one leg. This wasn’t the plan.

But while she’s driving, Dinah will be forced to confront everything that led her here, everything that will finally show her which direction to turn…

In her first YA novel, Kit de Waal responds to the classic Moby Dick with entirely new characters, a VW campervan, and by tearing the power away from obsessive Captain Ahab and giving it to a teenage girl who’s determined to find a new life, far away from her unconventional upbringing.

‘A gripping, heart-wrenching coming-of-age story’ Guardian

  • Longlisted for a Carnegie Medal 2020
  • Shortlisted for the Children’s Book Award 2020

The Trick to Time (Penguin, 2018)

Mona is a young Irish girl in the big city, with the thrill of a new job and a room of her own in a busy boarding house. On her first night out in 1970s Birmingham, she meets William, a charming Irish boy with an easy smile and an open face. They embark upon a passionate affair, a whirlwind marriage – before a sudden tragedy tears them apart.

Decades later, Mona pieces together the memories of the years that separate them. But can she ever learn to love again?

The Trick to Time is an unforgettable tale of grief, longing, and a love that lasts a lifetime.

‘A deftly crafted story of suffering and grief’ The Independent

‘De Waal represents the underprivileged with the confident, nuanced voice of one who knows… The Trick to Time is a universal story of love and loss, and the long, long time they can live in a person’s heart’ The Times

‘De Waal excels at bringing out the humanity of characters leading small lives on the fringe of huge social and political forces, struggling bravely not to be crushed by them’ The Guardian

‘Emotionally sure-handed novel exploring harrowing terrain with deft sensitivity’ The Sunday Times

‘An unforgettable tale of grief and life-long love’ Woman’s Own

‘A beautifully written, exquisitely crafted story of love, grief and the quiet courage it takes to survive great loss’ S Magazine

‘In their deftness and detail, these distillations of everyday life have all the beauty of a finely crafted life drawing’ The Financial Times

‘The Trick to Time starts gently and ratchets up the emotional intensity until you’re ugly crying into your pillow’ The Saturday Times

‘The Trick to Time proves that Kit de Waal is a writer destined for even greater things’ Red

‘Weaving tragedy and joy, big themes and the minutiae of life, this is a love story to take on the classics’ Emerald Street

  • Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018
  • A Stylist Unmissable Book, Spring 2018
  • Good Housekeeping’s Book of the Month
  • Prima’s April Pick

Six Foot Six (Quick Reads, 2018)

It’s an exciting day for Timothy Flowers. It’s the third of November, and it’s Friday, and it’s his twenty-first birthday. When Timothy walks to his usual street corner to see his favourite special bus, he meets Charlie. Charlie is a builder who is desperate for Timothy’s help because Timothy is very tall, six feet six inches. Timothy has never had a job before – or no work that he’s kept for more than a day. But when Timothy and Charlie have to collect money from a local thug, things don’t exactly go according to plan…

Over the course of one day, Timothy’s life will change for ever.

My Name Is Leon Cover

My Name is Leon (Penguin, 2016)

Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers. Since Jake is white and Leon is not.

As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile – like Curly Wurlys, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum.

Evoking a Britain of the early eighties, My Name is Leon is a heart-breaking story of love, identity and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Of the fierce bond between siblings. And how – just when we least expect it – we manage to find our way home.

‘Tender and heart-breaking’ Rachel Joyce, bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

‘A beautiful story told with compassion, urgency and wit’ Stephen Kelman, author of the Booker-shortlisted Pigeon English

‘Vivid and endearing – a very powerful book’ Emma Healey, bestselling author of Elizabeth is Missing

‘An inspirational page-turner’ Oprah magazine

‘Pitches the tone perfectly; Leon is an unforgettable boy’ The Times

‘A touching, thought-provoking debut’ Guardian

‘Startlingly funny. Balances the gritty with the feel good’ Observer

‘Deeply moving, compulsively readable and, despite the heart-rending subject matter, often funny’ Irish Times

My Name is Leon (Simon & Schuster, 2016)

Leon US CoverLeon is pure goodwill in a wicked world, and he won’t leave you when you put this unique book down. Authentic and beautiful, urgent and honest, this novel does what only the best do: it quietly makes room in your heart. At the end of the story I couldn’t bear to close the book on Leon. I felt I was abandoning him. I wanted to talk about it straight away with someone else who’d read it, and I know a great many readers will feel the same’ Chris Cleave, bestselling author of The Other Hand

‘Beautiful and heartbreaking – I cried buckets of tears for Leon and his family’ Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of The Last Act of Love

‘A compelling storyKit de Waal is to be congratulated’ Jane Shemilt, bestselling author of Daughter

  • Winner of the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award
  • Winner of France’s Plume de Bronze Award for Fiction
  • Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award
  • Shortlisted for the British Book Awards – Debut
  • Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize
About Kit De Waal