Find Layla

Amazon/Skyscape. Sept. 2020. 193p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781542019804.
Gr 7-10–In a story that begins like a typical coming-of-age tale, Layla, 14, lives in Southern California with her unstable, chaotic mother and her younger brother Andy. She is academically gifted, but teased by the popular kids at school. Layla’s life takes a drastic turn when her video submission for a school science project goes viral. The video reveals her home as a hostile ecosystem of fungi and black mold hiding in dresser drawers and bedrooms, and creatures living in the broken fridge. When Child Protective Services is called, Layla’s world is turned upside down, but she is fearless in the face of change. Layla is thrust into a world where adults make every decision for her, but how can she trust any of them when she’s been left to fend for herself for her entire life? With grace and respect, Elison depicts an intense and, sadly, accurate view on how a child survives in spite of neglect, embarrassment, and humiliation. The characters are as real as the people readers see in their own schools and communities. Layla’s growth is realistic, and her voice is determined and consistent as she faces this new kind of turmoil. Detailed and vivid without emphasizing the distress, Elison’s plot unfolds slowly, with the pace intensifying as more people enter Layla’s life.
VERDICT Overall, this necessary book allows for teachable moments for adults and children alike, who may know a person like Layla.

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