Author Stories Podcast Episode 1041 | Reyna Marder Gentin Interview

Today’s author interview guest is Reyna Marder Gentin, author of My Name Is Layla.

“Layla’s struggles at school and home are authentically depicted, and readers who face their own challenges will relate.” -School Library Journal

School will never be the same.

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?

“I read My Name is Layla in one sitting, mainly because Layla grabbed my heart on the first page and wouldn’t let go. This story perfectly captures the complexity of one 8th grade girl’s life — a very real family dynamic, a perfectly drawn academic challenge and the intense nature of friendship. It’s that rare novel that is highly satisfying but leaves you hoping for more.” —ANNABEL MONAGHAN, AUTHOR OF A GIRL NAMED DIGIT AND DOUBLE DIGIT

“Hurray for Layla! Warm and insightful, My Name is Layla speaks to the value of friendship, the need for caring teachers, and the power of family love — no matter how imperfect that family might be. Layla’s struggles will strike a chord with young readers who face their own challenges, and every reader will root for Layla, a girl who only needs a little help to recognize how special she really is.” —DIANA HARMON ASHER, AUTHOR OF SIDETRACKED

“Reyna Gentin’s book realistically and inspirationally captures the emotions of teenagers with learning differences, from their quiet frustrations to their ultimate triumphs. A great read for young people who need to know there is a way forward!”— CLAY KAUFMAN, LEADING EDUCATOR IN THE FIELD OF LANGUAGE-BASED LEARNING DIFFERENCES

About Reyna Marder Gentin:

In the fall of 2014, I was winding down my time as a criminal appellate attorney with a nonprofit public defender’s office where I had practiced law for nearly eighteen years. The work was fascinating and fulfilling, and the job had been a fabulous way to balance being a lawyer while raising a family. But it was time to try something new.

What began as a lark when a friend asked me to join her in a writing class at The Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College has turned into a passion. And meeting with readers has been both inspiring and humbling. Thank you for being part of my journey!

I’m married to Pierre Gentin, whom I have known since our high school days on Long Island when he was the captain of the football team and I was the head cheerleader. Okay, not really, but meeting in Orchestra sounds so geeky. Our two children are the light of our lives. When I’m not writing, I can be found volunteering with the Pace Women’s Justice Center, baking challah, lunging and doing sit ups at the direction of my beautiful Czech personal trainer, reading on my couch, and spending way too much time on Facebook.

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