This new contemporary story explores all that is not going right for Layla. She’s dealing with reading difficulties, a single parent home where Mom works nights and sleeps in the daytime, and learning about friendships—both new and old. At less than 140 pages it’s a quick read, but also one that will embrace readers. The portrayal of a typical middle school is spot in its depiction of students, teachers, and administrators. Yes, there are good people at every school.

Here’s the official synopsis:

On the first day of eighth grade, thirteen year-old Layla has a pretty good idea of what s in store for her another year of awkward social situations, mediocre grades, and teachers who praise her good behavior but find her academic performance disappointing. Layla feels certain she s capable of more, but each time she tries to read or write, the words on the page dance and spin, changing partners and leaving her to sit on the sidelines.

This year will be different in ways Layla could never have predicted. Her new English teacher, Mr. McCarthy, senses her potential. When he pushes her to succeed, Layla almost rises to the challenge before making a desperate choice that nearly costs her everything she s gained. Will she be able to get back on track? And who can she count on to help her?

Be prepared for plenty of friend drama and the teen mind at work. Layla uses best friend Liza to cover up a big mistake, and then there’s Sammy, a boy across the street who actually seems interested in her. She wonders, Why would someone with a perfect family want to befriend someone like me? The answers she gets opens her eyes to seeing people in a much different way. MY NAME IS LAYLA is one of the most relatable middle school stories young readers will ever encounter.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: January 19, 2021 PAGE COUNT: 140


  1. The story at times is heartbreaking (E.g. The only thing she ever got from her father before he left was her name). But there’s also plenty of warmth and understanding to heal those broken hearts.
  2. Sammy is honest and some of the things he says brought a smile to my face.
  3. Believable characters and a first person narration that did sound like it came from a 13-year-old. A tough task for an adult author but so well done here.
  4. Older brother Nick has his own problems but helps Layla in unexpected ways.
  5. A perfect book to use in the classroom or to read with your own child. Fifth grade on up is the intended audience.


Reyna Marder Gentin lives in Westchester County, NY with her husband and children. Reyna’s first novel, Unreasonable Doubts, a romantic thriller inspired by her work as a public defender, was a finalist for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association Star Award for debut fiction. She studies at the Writer’s Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. Her short stories have been widely published online and in print.  Learn more about Reyna at


I received an ARC in exchange for my honest review. IF you have time leave a comment below.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to MY NAME IS LAYLA

  1. This sounds like it really touches on a lot of teen issues. And I like that it’s a shorter story, which is good for kids that aren’t reading longer books yet. Thanks for the great review.

  2. danielle hammelef says:

    I have an ARC of this on top of my side reading table. It sounds emotional and, like Natalie stated, it’s shorter in length, which may attract more readers.

  3. It always amazes me how kids make it to MG and hide dyslexia. Why don’t teachers discover reading problems earlier. There are so many different fonts that are used now to help them. This sounds like an emotional, yet uplifting read. Good for kids to see themselves in Layla and seek help.

  4. This sounds likes a touching and realistic view of problems I imagine many young people face nowadays. Thanks for sharing this book with us for MMGM.

  5. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    This sounds like a fantastic middle-grade story! I appreciate seeing dyslexia discussed in more books—the only other one I can think of is Fish in a Tree. The short length sounds like it will appeal to many readers. Thanks for the great review!

  6. This one sounds good. I like the idea of her older brother helping in a unexpected way. Thanks for sharing this title with us!

  7. It’s always nice to see a teacher influencing a student in such a good way. And I like stories with good big brothers. I’m always keeping my eyes open for books I can get through in a day or two, so short is also attractive. Thanks for your review.

  8. Susan Uhlig Ford says:

    Sounds good. Thanks for sharing.

Place your thoughts here with a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.