Title: Find Layla
Author: Meg Elison
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Number of Pages: 188
Layla and her younger brother Andy live in a filthy, water-damaged apartment with mold and larvae hidden behind every corner. Their mom can’t take care of herself, let alone two kids, and Layla makes sure that nobody sees the place where she lives. When she gets a school assignment asking for photographs of a unique biome, Layla finally snaps and takes pictures of the most disgusting parts of her mom’s apartment.
After Andy taken to live somewhere else, Layla’s video is trending on the internet and she’s getting a lot of attention. She’s also on the run from CPS but she can’t avoid the authorities forever. She wants to be placed in the same family with Andy but everything turns out even more complicated than she’d originally thought. There are a lot of young adult books out there with main characters from broken homes who are trying to take care of younger siblings but I thought this one stood out as particularly good.
One of the things that affected me most about Find Layla was the author’s refusal to find an easy solution for the main character’s problems. In a lot of books with similar themes things would fall into place for the protagonist by the end but instead it left me feeling lost with the protagonist.
Some people might not like the way it just ends without a clear-cut solution for the problems Layla’s facing but I thought it was kind of brave how the author did it. Some of the science talk and comparisons Layla draws between her life and lives of wild animals felt a little bit forced but it was never a big problem for me.
One thing I really liked was Layla’s love/hate relationship with Andy and it felt very true to how sibling relationships work, especially when one is dependent on the other. She was a flawed character, and you got a strong sense of her desire to do better coupled with her desire to be a kid and not have to shoulder adult responsibility. Find Layla was a quick read, albeit with some heavy thematic material, and I’m definitely interested in checking out more by this author.
One thought on “Book Review: Find Layla by Meg Elison”