Find Layla by Meg Elison

Let me tell you: it’s been one of those days. Every time I’ve sat down to write this review, the phone has rang. I didn’t think I could get so many calls in one day! My throat is actually sore from how much talking I’ve done. And to be honest… the entire time I was talking I was thinking about this book. Find Layla really packed a punch. I read it Friday night and I’m still thinking about it today. 

It was just a really good book.

And that surprised me. Most kindle unlimited books aren’t bad per say. They’re just not usually anything to write home about. Or, vice verse, they’re a popular book that everyone has already read. Find Layla didn’t fit into either of these categories. It was a genuinely moving story about a teenage girl facing real problems about abuse, abandonment, and love. 

Personally, this story felt almost too real for me. As someone who also had a mother who struggled with mental health issues, I really related to Layla. Even her experiences with CPS resonated with me. While I had never been actually absorbed into the system, I understand being scared of being a part of it. What will people I don’t know do with me when the people who were supposed to love me don’t? It’s a hard question, especially for a teenager. 

Disclaimer: Find Layla doesn’t promise the reader an easy answer to that question. It doesn’t promise you something you’ll like. But it is a good book and I’ve been thinking about it a lot. It gives you insight into a system and a lifestyle a lot of people never have to live. 

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

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 her vulnerable younger brother, and steer clear of her unstable mother.

Then a school competition calls for a biome. Layla chooses her own home, a hostile ecosystem of indoor fungi and secret shame. With a borrowed video camera, she captures it all. The mushrooms growing in her brother’s dresser. The black mold blooming up the apartment walls. The unmentionable things living in the dead fridge. All the inevitable exotic toxins that are Layla’s life. Then the video goes viral.

When Child Protective Services comes to call, Layla loses her family and her home. Defiant, she must face her bullies and friends alike, on her own. Unafraid at last of being seen, Layla accepts the mortifying reality of visibility. Now she has to figure out how to stay whole and stand behind the truth she has shown the world.

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