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Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a Sudanese-Australian writer, broadcaster and social advocate with a background in mechanical engineering. Yassmin founded her first organization, Youth Without Borders, at the age of sixteen, published her debut memoir, Yassmin's Story, with Penguin Random House at age twenty-four, and followed up with her first fiction book for younger readers, You Must Be Layla, in 2019. An advocate for the empowerment of women, youth and people of colour, Yassmin has been awarded numerous awards for her advocacy, including the 2018 Young Voltaire Award for Free Speech. Yassmin has travelled to over twenty countries speaking to governments, NGOs and multinational companies on a range of topics including unconscious bias, resilience, and the impact of technology on society. 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's critically acclaimed essays have been published in numerous anthologies, including the Griffith Review, the bestselling It's Not About the Burqa and The New Daughters of Africa. Her words can also be found in publications like the Guardian, Teen Vogue, The New York Times, The Independent and Glamour. Yassmin's broadcasting portfolio is diverse: she presented the national TV show Australia Wide, a podcast on becoming an F1 driver and created Hijabistas, a series looking at the modest fashion scene in Australia. Yassmin is a regular contributor to the BBC, Monocle 24 and is a co-host of The Guilty Feminist. Outside advocacy, she worked as a drilling engineer on oil and gas rigs for four years and is an internationally accredited F1 journalist.
Boundlessly energetic Layla is over the moon when she’s offered a scholarship to a fancy school, but this exciting new chapter of her life gets off to the worst possible start when she stands up to a bully, who happens to be the son of a Very Important Person. Since Layla’s wise parents “had taught her to yell in the face of injustice,” she won’t remain silent when subjected to racism and islamophobia (“Get your towelhead face out of our school. In fact, get out of our COUNTRY. You’re not welcome here”), but it’s Layla who ends up being suspended. Never one to quit, cut loose or bow out, Layla bounces back by throwing herself into a high profile inter-school robotics invention competition, with many hilarious and moving true-to-life moments along the way. Throughout I adored Layla’s openness, her aptitude for shrugging off set-backs, taking suggestions on board and embracing change. As the You Must Be Layla title suggests, she’s a one-of-a-kind heroine, and this funny, thought-provoking novel - the first children’s book from inspirational Sudanese-born broadcaster, social advocate and mechanical engineer Yassmin Abdel-Magied - is a one-of-a-kind bundle of comedy and compassion.