> Skip to content
About the book
  • Published: 5 March 2019
  • ISBN: 9780143788515
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $16.99

You Must Be Layla

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’.

  • Pub date: 5 March 2019
  • ISBN: 9780143788515
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $16.99

About the Author

Yassmin Abdel-Magied

Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a Sudanese-born Australian mechanical engineer, writer and social advocate.

Yassmin worked on oil and gas rigs around Australia for almost half a decade before becoming a full-time writer and broadcaster. She published her debut memoir, Yassmin's Story, at age 24, then became the presenter of Australia Wide, a national weekly current-affairs show on the ABC and Motor Mouth, a podcast on becoming an F1 driver. After hosting the documentary, The Truth About Racism, she created Hijabistas for the ABC, a series looking at the modest fashion scene in Australia. Her writing has appeared in publications like Teen Vogue, London's Evening Standard, the Guardian and numerous anthologies.

With over a decade’s experience in non-profit governance, Yassmin founded her first organisation, Youth Without Borders, at the age of 16. She has since served on numerous board and councils, including the Council of Australian-Arab Relations and ChildFund, and also serves as the Gender Ambassador for the Inter-American Development Bank.
Yassmin has been awarded numerous awards nationally and internationally for her advocacy, including the 2018 Young Voltaire Award for Free Speech and Queensland Young Australian of the Year in 2015. In 2017, Yassmin created Mumtaza, dedicated to the empowerment of women of colour, and most recently founded Kuwa, a platform tackling cultural change around sexual harassment in workplaces.

Yassmin has delivered keynotes in over 20 countries on unconscious bias and leadership. Her TED talk, What Does My Headscarf Mean to You?, has been viewed over two million times and was chosen as one of TED’s top ten ideas of 2015. Yassmin is currently based in London.

Also by Yassmin Abdel-Magied

See all

Praise for You Must Be Layla

“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

“[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 story told with warmth, wit and humour.”

Sandy Fussell, Sunday Telegraph

“A fun and powerful debut.”


Related titles