Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson

Publication: February 11, 2014

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

From a former CIA officer comes the riveting account of a royal Middle Eastern family exiled to the American suburbs.

When her father is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila flees from the war-torn middle east to a life of exile and anonymity in the U.S. Gradually she adjusts to a new school, new friends, and a new culture, but while Laila sees opportunity in her new life, her mother is focused on the past. She’s conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can’t bear to stand still as an international crisis takes shape around her, but how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations?

J.C. Carleson delivers a fascinating account of a girl—and a country—on the brink, and a rare glimpse at the personal side of international politics.

*Bonus Backmatter includes a note about the author's CIA past, and a commentary by RAND researcher and president of ARCH International, Dr. Cheryl Benard. Recommendations for further reading are also included.

The Tyrant’s Daughter is a story that I wasn’t quite expecting. Political intrigue has never really been my thing. But I kept seeing this book pop up and I heard a lot of good things about it, so I thought, why not take a look.

I am very glad that I did, because what I discovered was at least to me a fresh take on YA fiction that gave me the change I needed at the time. No love triangles, no boy crazed teens, and no magic…

Fifteen year old Laila is attempting to adjust to her life in the U.S. along with her mother Yasmin, and her seven year old brother Bastien after her father known as ‘The Dictator’ was murdered in their home country.

The book is told through Laila’s point of view and it follows her through her interactions at school and at home. I thought Laila was a bit naïve about what was going on in her country and what role her father played in that, but it’s sort of expected of someone who has been sheltered. She may have had a pampered upbringing, but she is also smart and has a good heart. It was easy to like her and hope for the best.

Things are really different than where she is from and what she is used to. It’s a little of a culture shock.  She goes from living in a palace with tons of servants, to living in a small apartment and having to do everything herself. Laila does her best to adapt and even manages to forge a few friendships during the process.

Her voice felt real and honest. That’s what I liked about this story. I have no clue what it is really like to have to live through a war going on right outside your doorstep and then having to flee to safety so you won’t be harmed like Laila and her family had to. But the struggles she encountered, her trying to learn life in America, her worries and fears all seemed to be genuine and reflected that of a young teenage girl trying to figure out how she fits into this new world.

This book will make you think about your own life, and how small some of the issues we face are compared to others in different places around the world. It was a bit of an eye opening experience.

RATING: 4½ out of 5.

**I received this book on behalf of the Publisher in exchange for nothing but my honest opinion. Thank you**


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