> Skip to content

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 did, a suspension certainly isn't the way she would have wished to begin her time at her fancy new high school. Despite the setback, Layla's determined to show everyone that she does deserve her scholarship and sets her sights on winning a big invention competition. But where to begin?

Looking outside and in, Layla will need to come to terms with who she is and who she wants to be if she has any chance of succeeding.

Jam-packed with heart and humour You Must Be Layla by Yassmin Abdel-Magied reveals a powerful new voice in children’s writing. Touching on the migrant experience and exploring thought-provoking themes relevant to all teens, this book shows the strength required to be a Queen with a capital ‘Q’.


Activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s first foray into children’s writing is brimming with social justice passion, punctuated on every page with millennial slang that will delight internet-savvy kids. Layla’s family speaks in their native tongue throughout and it’s fantastic to see this representation within a middle-grade novel.

Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen, Books + Publishing

A story told with warmth, wit and humour.

Sandy Fussell, Sunday Telegraph

[You Must Be Layla] shines bright as an "own voices" story with author and main character both Sudanese-born Australians. There's no doubting the significance of readers being able to see themselves in the stories they read and – with Layla's family life and Sudanese culture, in an Aussie context, a focal point – many readers who don't often see themselves reflected, will here.

Angie Schiavone, Sydney Morning Herald

There are some really lovely positive messages in this book: the value of an encouraging teacher, warm and loving parents who provide sound moral and spiritual guidance, the importance of standing strong with true friends, sharing laughter and fun.

Helen Eddy, Read Plus

You Must Be Layla is a heart-warming story that will give young readers insight into the lives of migrants to Australia and the struggles with racism and identity that they grapple with . . . Layla is a wonderfully warm and vibrant character who will stay with you long after you have finished reading her story.

Better Reading

Abdel-Magied enthusiastically sweeps away outdated perceptions of who young Muslim girls are – and should be. Hugely likeable, it will not take long before you want Layla to be your best mate.There are many laugh out loud moments, alongside a heart-stopping situation that reminds you of the invidious nature of racism and sexism.

Joy Francis, Words of Colour

A fun and powerful debut.


Read More

Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    March 5, 2019


    288 pages

    RRP $21.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • EBook


    March 5, 2019

    Penguin eBooks

    288 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle NZ
    • iBooks NZ
    • Google Play EBook NZ
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia NZ
  • Audio Download


    March 5, 2019

    Penguin AU Audio Child

    Online retailers

    • Audible NZ
    • Google Play Audio NZ
    • Kobo Audiobook

Also by Yassmin Abdel-Magied