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You Must Be Layla

3.11  ·  Rating details ·  200 ratings  ·  64 reviews
“With her long skirt and headscarf Layla certainly stands out at her new high school. Everyone thinks they know her, just from a glance. But do they? And does Layla really know herself?”

Layla's mind goes a million miles a minute, so does her mouth – unfortunately her better judgement can take a while to catch up! Although she believes she was justified for doing what she d
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Penguin
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Average rating 3.11  · 
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 ·  200 ratings  ·  64 reviews

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Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Forgiveness liberates the soul and removes fear..” -Nelson Mandela

Layla’s story is a very important story and it was told in a very fun and engaging way. Layla’s flaws were what made her human and humans can only take so much in different situations - especially at such a young age of 12-13 in year 8. This story was important as it showed no bounds in exploring the social injustices that exist in our time from racism to Islamaphobia - how it can go from derogatory comments to violence even in t
CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨
You Must Be Layla features a protagonist and story that are pivotal in today's Australian lit, but a few things fell short for me. Nonetheless, I think this is a good story for kids who want an accessible and approachable story about confidence, ambition, and prejudice.

- The story follows Layla, a Muslim Sudanese-Australian kid (in Year 8!) who gets a scholarship to a prestigious school that is predominantly white - which is quite different to her old school where most of the kids were Muslim.
Ghostly  Writer
Jun 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2019-reads
There are a lot of issues that I have with this book... (This review is to be updated at a later time).
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘But just remember – failure makes the story more interesting.’

Layla wins a scholarship to an impressive high school. On her first day, wearing a long skirt and a headscarf, Layla certainly stands out. Some of her fellow students (and teachers) make assumptions. And Layla doesn’t always help herself: speaking before thinking through the consequences can get you into trouble, even if you don’t look different.

Layla gets suspended. Whether the suspension is justified or not, Layla knows that she ne
Trigger warnings: bullying, racism, Islamophobia.

2.5 stars.

Oh boy. I had such high hopes for this book because I have nothing but respect for Yassmin Abdel-Magied. Also, the protagonist is in year 8, which is almost unheard of in YA and I was super excited to have a book coming out for the younger end of the YA audience. And there was a reasonable amount about this that I enjoyed - a teenage girl who's interested in STEM, the struggles of being a Sudanese Muslim at a private school that's very
Kylie Abecca
Apr 12, 2019 rated it liked it
While the storyline is good, I found it to be VERY repetitive. Some sentences have the same word three times (like ‘completely’, which is a word that has numerous alternative options). This book needed a lot more editing.
The use of LOL, OMG and Hehe I felt we’re overused and not needed. At one point ‘SAD FACE’ was used - really? Admittedly, I am in my mid 30’s and am not exactly in the target audience, which is likely why these annoyed me so much.
The Sudanese meanings would have been better desc
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Meeting Layla will be one of the loveliest things you get to do this year. Our pal @Yassmin_a has created an absolutely delightful character who is a joy to read about. Layla is the girl we all want to be besties with, and has so much love, laughter and spark within her that she can actually be all of our bestie.

But trying to fit in when one shines so bright will always be impossible. A hilariously opinionated and optimistic young woman, Layla steps up to face some tough challenges at her new sc
Janelle Dazzlepants
This book reads like a school assignment that the author frantically tried to finish the night before.

Firstly, I advise you read this as a middle grade. It feels like a misnomer marketing this as YA as the writing and characterisation feels more appropriate for the 8-12 age range - and that's fine. Bearing this in mind, the beginning is super strong and I really connected with Layla and her family unit. The author does a great job at building Layla's backstory in Brisbane leading up to the first
Jul 15, 2019 rated it did not like it

erm rtc idk tho this one made me go on a reading slump.

Do not recommend for anyone waste of time.

And that's something coming from a Muslim myself
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
You Must Be Layla is a vibrant and laugh-out-loud funny story for younger teens.

Layla is loud and smart, her voice throughout the story is strong and authentically fourteen. The story deals with Layla's dreams of adventure, her interest in making things and her navigation of a new school with new friendships all within the context of being a Muslim in modern Australia, with the realities of racism and Islamophobia as a constant factor.

Kat Schrav
Apr 22, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5. While I can appreciate the pertinency of the themes and discourses in this book, it was lacking depth in character development and issues discussed. An easy read, but the ‘teen speak’ was overdone and somewhat distracting in places. Would recommend for students in years 7/8.
Ina Lee
The attempt at teen-speak was pretty cringey, but it makes up for it with a cute and wholesome storyline. Layla is a great character and I would love a sequel 🙏
Natasha (jouljet)
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poc
A cracking pace read following Layla as she starts at a new, fancy school to begin her path to be a world wide adventurer.

Layla is full of sass, and overwhelming adolescent impulsivity! She gave me anxiety with some of her antics, which just showed me how this character had developed and I'd become invested.

I loved the Arabic included within the text, seamlessly spoken as it would be within a family in Australia with English as a second language. Many phrases I knew because of my own growing Ara
Ellen McMahon
A bright new voice in Aussie YA fiction brings us Layla, a sassy teen with big dreams. The novel's wider themes of diversity and inclusion are well handled, and couldn't come at a better time. I adored this and would recommend it to 10-13 year olds especially.
Review closer to release
Penny Poppleton
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
A perfect book for those in between middle-grade and YA. Liked it a lot and sped through once I found it again!
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
A tad young for me but pacing issues and distracting editing mistakes aside, Layla and her family are gorgeous and the story was really heartwarming. Would be perfect for upper primary/ early high school readers
Dave Sargent
May 27, 2019 rated it did not like it
The style of writing hasn’t hit it’s targeted audience. Written for a certain age demographic while trying to appeal to another.
Conor Hallahan
May 18, 2019 rated it did not like it
Terrible. Really badly written and doesn't make sense alot of the time. I'm surprised a publisher actually went ahead and printed this. Don't waste your money, there are much better things to spend your money on.
Jamie Starlin
May 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
Though the story itself is interesting it lacks any conviction to intrigue me to keep reading it was a struggle to get through, Yassmins attempt at a story is commendable but perhaps it’s not for her, to be honest I just got through it but now I feel I wasted some quality oxygen while reading it :(
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
I think that writing and publishing a book is such a trenendous achievement that I find it really difficult to articulate my thoughts when I have mixed feelings about something that i've read. Im going to start this review with the things that I think Yassmin Abdel Majied has done well in her first foray into novel writing with You Must Be Layla. Firstly, the plot of the novel revolves around the life lessons that Layla, a young Sudanese Islamic woman learns as she moves from her comfort zone at ...more
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019-reads
I didn't really connect with any of the characters until the end, and I felt that the overall story was a bit rushed and basic. Layla as a character was really dull, but there was heaps of representation which is always good. I think I might have enjoyed the about the author part the most because from reading that Yassmin seems like a hell of a woman.

“A single red curl fell out of the neatly combed arrangement on Ethan’s head, obscuring his eye. He brushed it aside gently and smiled at Layla s
Nicole Field
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loveozya
God I'm glad that this book came across my dashboard. It's a MG read, and I do tend to read a few of them now and then when I've heard of the author, even though the genre isn't my usual.

This novel is about a girl called Layla, obviously, who has just moved from her old school to a better one in the area with a scholarship. She is the first one to come to this particular school wearing a hijabi, but she very quickly makes friends with her school mates, even if it takes a little bit of a longer
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I was mindlessly scanning the shelves at the library when I saw YASSMIN ABDEL-MAGIED, and that was it. Never mind title or synopsis, I just wanted to see what she would write.

Now I have to admit that at 24 years old, this book is a little too young for me. The YAASSSS GURL OMG talk is a bit beyond me. So 3-stars is from a 24 year old. Just remember that.

But if I step back, I'm glad this book was written. I'm glad that these big ideas about identity and race are written about through the lens of
The Awkward Corner
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Rating: 3.5 stars
I raced through this super sweet, empowering novel in an afternoon - Layla is a relatable, strong young woman and Yassmin Abdel-Magied has artfully demonstrated the problem of racism in Australia while upholding all of the young adult novel concepts, plus this book (and I'm hoping there's a sequel, or even a series in the works!) fills a need for more diverse, representative literature to be available to Australian teens (and teens everywhere). When I was growing up I distinctly
Apr 21, 2020 rated it did not like it
i thought this book might teach my sisters about islam however i was very annoyed when they told me that she was in year 8 and was friends with a boy, already not islamic, furthermore this was her friend, not islamic, and she has a crush on him, not islamic although ik that it cannot be helped, and they hangout a lot and their are many times in the book where they hold hands. honestly i have really learned my lesson to never judge a book by its cover. it is not very islamic and just upholds west ...more
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Wow this was a letdown. I had trouble connecting with the characters as most were underdeveloped. A lot of important scenes or big moments were all summed up. Was there even a climax? The characters also didn’t sound like teens and the writing sounded over dramatic and preachy at times, especially when it came to talks on racism and identities. How the problem with racist bullies was solved felt unbelievable and the coming out of a gay friend felt forced.

But I did like Layla’s mission to invent
Hana B
May 09, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a cool story. I enjoyed the book and the ideas were great but there were a few things that I could not work out about the story kine, for example, how does Layla make the gummy bots safe to eat? The main ideas were there though and this was a great story with lots of diversity and ideas. I for one was not a huge fan of Layla as a character though. She was very full on and did not seem to care about others very much. All in all this is a great book about finding yourself and understandin ...more
Claire McCormick
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to enjoy this but couldn't due to editing errors, out-dated, irrelevant pop culture references and somewhat cringey use of youth language. The resolution also felt a bit rushed toward the end, and I had issues with how Layla's family responded to her getting in trouble at school. However, it did give some insight into the experience of being a young Sudanese-Australian Muslim girl and the trials of trying to fit in with peers, and I gained new understanding of Islam and Sudanese ...more
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