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Find Layla

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  5,014 ratings  ·  586 reviews

A neglected girl’s chaotic coming-of-age becomes a trending new hashtag in a novel about growing up and getting away by an award-winning author.

Underprivileged and keenly self-aware, SoCal fourteen-year-old Layla Bailey isn’t used to being noticed. Except by mean girls who tweet about her ragged appearance. All she wants to do is indulge in her love of science, protect

Kindle Edition, 185 pages
Published September 1st 2020 by Skyscape
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Average rating 4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,014 ratings  ·  586 reviews

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Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
It's sad, heartbreaking but really beautiful.

I love you, dear author.
The book is so real.

Trigger warnings: Bullying, drug addiction, violence, abuse

Viral on the net
Neglected kids.
Coming of age.
Abusive parents.
Foster parents.

I cannot stop crying.

Layla, you need better people in your life as you grow up. And I know you are going to be with better people now.
You are such a smart kid. You will grow up beautiful and strong, much stronger than you were. And yassss, if your YouTube c
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read Find Layla in one sitting. It's not an easy read as it deals with topics such as abuse, neglect, and bullying but I just couldn't stop reading and it helps that it is relatively short. It is heart breaking and the ending made me cry. Layla is a strong character but I wish we got a little more. The ending felt a bit rushed and some of the plot didn't make much sense but overall, I really enjoyed this story.

Thanks so much to Netgalley and to the publisher for sending me an electronic copy o
Goth Gone Grey
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Self-medicating with science in the midst of squalor

This is not an easy read. The narrator and lead character, Layla, warns us of this early on:

"Life is hard and complicated and messy. Life is parasites that live in your gut and brilliant scientists teaching a gorilla to use sign language. Life is moths that drink tears, and the flu virus, and nothing you can control. Life is sometimes using a knife to comb your hair, because absolutely nothing else works, and life always finds a way through."
John Gilbert
Jun 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Well, this was a surprise. Not sure why I picked it up on kindle, but once into the book, it took hold right up to the end.

Apparently this is Ms Elison's first YA book, she usually writes fantasy, and there is certainly a bit of that in this story as it's pretty fantastical. Layla is 14 with a Mum from hell and a little brother who she pretty much raises and looks after in their squalid living situation.

But Layla is a survivor, living under the radar and still maintaining a 4.0 grade average in
Rae Lipkin
Find Layla is a story that needs to be told and read and reread and shared. It’s a story of neglected children and absent parents and hope. This story belongs in libraries and spoken about in classrooms and discussed at dinner tables. This story deserves to be shared because we all know someone who needs help.
Sep 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
You can find this and other reviews on my blog

This book was… peculiar.

The premise is exactly that: a girl and her little brother who live in a very unstable environment, with an even more unstable mother whose only purpose in the story is to be a terrible person that is clearly in no condition to raise children. I did think that the message of this book was very evident and I was able to sympathize with Layla towards the end. However, I struggled a lot with this book, and therefore it took lo
Joan Concilio
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-read
Truly amazing. It’s 5:25 a.m. and I just finished, and all I can think is it’s been way too long since I cared more about a book than sleep. And this book... wow did it rip my heart out. To Meg Elison, if you read these comments - thank you for telling this story with such grace and compassion. I don’t know if you have first-hand experience with a life like this or if you’re just that amazing of a writer and researcher or all of the above, but whatever the case... you knocked this out of the par ...more
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An emotionally gripping story of a young girl just trying to survive.

The synopsis for this book immediately grabbed my attention. I knew this wouldn't be an easy read. However, I set my hopes high, because if I was going to put myself through this gut-retching experience, I expected the quality of the work to be stellar. As you can see from my review, the author delivered.

The author did a phenomenal job capturing the voice of a young girl, Layla Bailey, who is so broken down, yet at the same ti
Riya Reads
A. poignant, coming of age story of an intelligent and witty, science geek girl called LAYLA.

Layla is our nerdy quintessential 14 year old. I loved her witty remarks throughout the story. She doesn't know how to do makeup so she says, "she's allergic" to it.
Poor Layla, doesn't have a "HOME SWEET HOME" , she is bitten by poverty and lives in the most horrible and squalid conditions ( reading about it made me feel grateful and blessed for what I have), her father isn't in the picture anymore and
Prashanthi Kadambi
Jan 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Stunning! I was totally unprepared for this book, and it hit me so hard emotionally. Dealing with neglect and child abuse, this was a very difficult yet griping read. Layla is a character I will never forget, and the author has painted her out so realistically. Her love for science, her witty quips, her stunning self awareness, her mental dialogue that seems quite advanced for her age and yet screams with the despair and confusion of a child forced to grow up with a parent who isn't at all one, ...more
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Just wow.

It was the apparent honesty that killed me. No sugar coating. No Disney. I can't say more because I don't want to spoil this for anyone. But I read this whole book in three hours. I almost literally couldn't put it down. I'm pretty far from a young adult, but I have a memory and so much of this resonated hard. Thanks, Meg Ellison. And thanks, fictional Layla: You need to read "Lab Girl." 😊😉
Aug 06, 2020 rated it liked it
I did a rare thing and changed my rating after sleeping on it. And it was not in the book's favor :(

So here's the good:
-super engaging
-good protagonist
-easy to read - I read it in 1 four hour sitting

Here's the less good:
-Without getting into spoilers, there are giant holes in the plot. While we have the narration of Layla about what is happening, we don't really know how she feels about it. We kind of get glimpses but from the first flashback of trying to care for her own hair to the ending, we
Richard Propes
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There were a million ways that Meg Elison's upcoming YA novel "Find Layla" could have gone horribly wrong, yet somehow this never happens in what is, I'll confess with some surprise, a most rewarding and incredibly moving literary experience wrapped around the coming-of-age story of fourteen-year-old Layla.

Layla isn't the kind of young girl who usually gets her own YA novel. Yet, within a few pages of "Find Layla" you'll find yourself drawn to this remarkable young girl who's never really been
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Meg Elison really shows that she has range with the release of Find Layla. This YA contemporary is hard-hitting and impressive. It is raw and heartbreaking, incredibly impactful, and gripping.

The writing blew me away. It's SO well done. The teenage perspective is very well handled and it truly feels like Layla leading the story rather than an adult writer. I sunk right into the pages and it felt like reading a diary. The detail to the senses is both impressive and assaulting. The detail to the s
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Read this all in one sitting. In other words, it was too good to put down. Although I come from an upper middle class background with two reasonably functional parents, I couldn't shake the feeling that this book was about me. The metaphor about fungus growing all over seemed particularly relevant, as the ash of dozens of wildfires settles on everything inside and outside of my house. ...more
Carla Spenner
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Read this in just a couple of hours. A moving, heartbreaking coming of age novel. Layla's story at times is painful to read but I'm aware that for some this is the life they lead.
Everything about this story makes it a book everyone should read - I truly felt for Layla and Andy and as an adult could see things way before them. A must read.
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book...
It's a beautifully weaved heart wrenching tale about a 14 year old Layla Bailey, who survives among various biomes with an adorable vampire teeth brother and an abusive mother. One simple biology assignment throws her life apart, for better or for worse. The smart little teenager navigates through situations you'd never want yourself or anyone else to be in for that matter... It makes you cry. But it also does teach you that your life, whatever you have, is quite lucky in itself. It
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don't read much YA, but this is the same author who wrote The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, which I absolutely loved, so this was an easy Kindle First pick.

It's a short book, but it packs an emotional wallop. Layla is living in squalor, basically parenting her six-year-old brother, while being a honor roll student who wants to be a scientist. She's bullied at school and sometimes at home too. Her mom vacillates between screaming at her kids or just checking out altogether, sometimes leaving the
Oct 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
4.5 stars

Most parts effectively makes your chest tighten. I only wish it was longer. I would have followed Layla's story until her college years because of how good this is.
Aug 13, 2020 rated it liked it
The author totally had me, even with some believability issues for the first 75% of the book. It took a little bit to get going and to figure out the arc but I kept picking it back up and not wanting to put it down (which is not generally my style when I read)--I bought into it.

And then it ended like 50 pages before I felt like it should. I quite literally read the last page, saw the author bio pop up, then went back to make sure I didn't skip like a ton of pages.

It takes a while to get going o
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great fictional readalike to Rex Ogle's Free Lunch, with a similar subject matter, length, and easy readability for reluctant readers. But really this book is for anyone - it tells the story of a whip-smart fourteen year old girl who aspires to be a scientist and observes the world around her as both subject and observer. Her story is a resonant one, defty tackling issues of poverty, abuse, neglect, and resilience in the span of under 200 pages, and reminding readers that one never kno ...more
Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a quick read but it carries quite the emotional punch. It was well written and while I think a couple of bits weren’t quite how it would really go down it was realistic enough to keep me in the fictional world. Layla has an important story to tell and I love that there are more and more stories like this coming out of what abuse and neglect and foster care look like from the child’s perspective. In addition other important (and potentially triggering) topics are discussed including bull ...more
Nov 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Ava, Victoria
Shelves: read-agains, 4-stars
4.5 ⭐️: it's good but not a sacred five ⭐️ ...more
Alex (The Scribe Owl)
Come see this review and more at my blog, The Scribe Owl!

This is currently an Amazon First Read for August 2020. With Amazon Prime, you can choose one kindle book to read a prerelease copy of.

4/5 stars

Be warned: this is not a light read. But it is a story that needs to be read. It needs to be shared and thought about. Find Layla is a story about absent parents and neglected kids, sorrow and hope. It's the deeply touching and emotionally gripping story of a girl just trying to survive with all th
Zoe's Human
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fourteen-year-old Layla Bailey has grown up trying to protect her baby brother in an environment where the only adult is an unstable mother who is best avoided. When a school science video project attracts the attention of Child Protective Services, she flees and tries to find a way to piece her life together. Grim and sad but beautifully told, Find Layla explores how messy and complicated a child's life can be when they've only ever had themselves to depend on.

CONTENT WARNINGS: (view spoiler)
Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a quick read but it carries quite the emotional punch. It was well written and while I think a couple of bits weren’t quite how it would really go down it was realistic enough to keep me in the fictional world. Layla has an important story to tell and I love that there are more and more stories like this coming out of what abuse and neglect and foster care look like from the child’s perspective. In addition other important (and potentially triggering) topics are discussed including bull ...more
Alex Anderson
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A heartbreaking story of an extreme neglect, abuse, and bullying. Layla is an 8th grade girl with responsibilities on her plate that no middle schooler should have. Layla takes care of her little brother while they live in absolute filth and squalor with an absent and awful mother (when she does come around). Layla wears the same dirty clothes day after day, survives on free lunch at school, and is constantly bullied for circumstances out of her control.

This story is fiction, but an incredible
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received an eARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ok, so did I pick this book purely because it has my name in it and I rarely find my name in books? Why yes, yes I did.

What I wasn't expecting was the parallels this characters life had with my own. This was poignant, raw and beautiful.

Layla's story is a story that belongs to so many young people around the world, struggle, neglect, responsibility and love.

An emotional ride ftom start to end. If you're looking for a heart wre
Ali Guinan
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
WOW. I was blown away by this book. I think it took me about 3 sittings to finish because I just couldn't stop reading. Being a 14-year-old is hard enough, let alone having to be neglected by your mother, responsible for your 6-year-old brother, AND maintaining a 4.0 gpa. Layla is one of the best characters I've met this year. Love love LOVED this novel! ...more
Sep 26, 2020 rated it liked it
A sad book but one that I'm glad I read. I will admit that the synopsis is a bit deceiving, the viral video comes AFTER CPS has already been to her house so the plot wasnt what I expected but still a solid read. Layla is a good character and a relatable teenage girl determined to be a burden to no one and nothing. ...more
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Literally Leander: Final Thoughts - May 2 3 May 02, 2021 08:14AM  

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Meg Elison is a science fiction author and feminist essayist. Her series, The Road to Nowhere, won the 2014 Philip K. Dick award. She was a James A. Tiptree Award Honoree in 2018. In 2020, she is publishing her first collection, called “Big Girl” with PM Press and her first young adult novel, “Find Layla” with Skyscape. Meg has been published in McSweeney’s, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Fangoria, Un ...more

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