A few years ago, I read three books for one selfish reason – the characters had the same last name as me.
My last name, DeLeon, isn’t common, so it was exciting to see my name in print. The first of these books, Rick Riordan’s 2006 Mission Road, featured a character named Ana DeLeon who was tangled up in the investigation of an unsolved murder. Mission Road, unlike Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, isn’t particularly memorable, but the other two DeLeon books are awesome.
The most famous of these books is Junot Diaz’s 2008 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. The lead character, Oscar DeLeon, is a misfit whose Dominican-American family suffers a curse brought on by a former dictator from their homeland. This funny book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, with Diaz becoming the second Hispanic to receive that honor.
But my personal favorite DeLeon character comes from Stewart O’Nan’s 2008 Last Night at the Lobster, which depicts Manny DeLeon’s last day on the job as manager of a New England Red Lobster on a snowy day. DeLeon is just an ordinary guy living an ordinary life, but his sense of decency makes him one of those characters that you wish you had as a friend. I’m proud to share the same last name as him.