AWRW Book Review: Layla, by Celine Keating #WomensFiction


Layla is the story of a young woman whose journey forward is through the past.

In the 1960s, Layla’s parents were protesting the Vietnam War. Students were burning draft cards. Thousands were marching on Washington. The Weather Underground was taking things further—making statements, making bombs. Now it’s 2005, her mother has died, and her legacy to Layla is an envelope of enigmatic letters and instructions for a cross-country journey that will be as disorienting as a ’60s acid trip.

Traveling from New York City to the Adirondack Mountains and Boston, across the country to Colorado, the Oregon forest, and a hippie outpost in the California desert, Layla falls deeper into danger as she gets closer to the bombshell at the heart of her parents’ past.

Yearning to learn more about the father she’s never known, Layla, apolitical and disaffected, doesn’t take her mother’s warnings seriously – until it is too late. Confronted with a painful, life-changing choice, Layla discovers her own values as she comes to grips with the consequences of her parents’ activism.

Paperback Edition: 247 pages

Published January 13th 2014 by Plain View Press

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Fiction, Political, Suspense


***I would like to thank Celine Keating for providing me with a paperback copy of Layla, in exchange for a fair, thoughtful and honest book review.
laylabycelineWhat Is It About?

Layla is a women’s fiction novel about a young woman’s cross country journey, where every stop unravels a small part of her past, and shocking family secrets are revealed.

Born to left wing politico parents. Layla has been told her entire life how great the ’60s were. She strongly resists this ideology, and resents politics in general. Layla feels politics took her mother’s attention from her growing up.

Layla develops her own point of view, and discovers her true self along the way.

My Thoughts:

This is one of those books that I may have never picked up/heard of if it wasn’t offered to me in exchange for a review, and I am so glad it was, because I absolutely loved it. The slow winding suspense, and likability of the main character will make this book a memorable one for me.

I loved being along for Layla’s cross country journey, interacting with her parents’ hippy friends, an odd hitchhiker with her son in tow, and of course all the evasive letters that were strategically sent to her along the way. Layla is an empathetic character, and someone who you want to see succeed. I enjoyed watching her grow as a person, and I was proud of the woman she had become because of it all! Layla represents women’s fiction at its finest!

What I Loved:

There were a few gasp worthy moments and plot twists that I didn’t see coming, which propelled the story forward into a direction I wasn’t expecting. I love it when a story can ‘keep me on my toes’!

The suspenseful writing makes this novel hard to put down. I love a story that I can stay immersed in, and doesn’t lose my interest. Layla never lost my interest.

What I Disliked:

Now that I have finished Layla, I miss being along for the ride! I sighed as I closed the book, knowing that Layla’s, (and my), journey was over.

I didn’t understand why Jenny, who was accompanying Layla on her trip, left after one stop. Why was it necessary for her to come at all? However, I think the author made a wise decision in sending her home, because we got to see Layla grow as an individual, and bravely navigate on her own.


I believe that so many people could enjoy this novel; specifically, anyone who lived through the tumultuous ’60s, political activists, and anyone who enjoys a slow winding suspense.


Purchase Layla on Amazon!



About The Author:

Celine Keating

Celine Keating is a fiction writer living in New York. Her novel, Layla, published in June, 2011, from Plain View Press, was chosen by both HuffPost and Poets & Writers as a must-read book, and was featured in the summer issues of Poets & Writers in 2011 and 2012. Her short fiction has been published in many literary magazines, including Appearances, Echoes, Emrys Journal, The North Stone Review, Prairie Schooner, and Santa Clara Review. Keating is a board member of The Concerned Citizens of Montauk, an environmental group. She is also a music reviewer and contributor to Acoustic Guitar magazine and



6 thoughts on “AWRW Book Review: Layla, by Celine Keating #WomensFiction

  1. Sounds like a book I’d enjoy.
    By the way congrats on being a finalist in Indies Unlimited Ecellence awards for best review site. I voted for you but someone else won it. Still, great to be a finalist.

    Liked by 1 person

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