Monday, May 19, 2014

Review: The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson

Title: The Tyrant's Daughter
Author: J.C. Carleson
Source: Amazon Vine
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Release Date: February 11, 2014
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

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. 

This book was not at all what I had expected at first - it was different, but in a good way.  The story follows Laila as she tries to adjust to life in America after fleeing from her country.  The country remains unnamed for the entire story - the perfect choice by the author in order to avoid some backlash I'm sure.  The country created is a merging of several that have had struggles over the past few years - all we know for sure is that it's in the Middle East.  While the country may not have had a name, it definitely had an identity.  It's culture and people come to life in many different ways - Laila's memories, news articles she reads, and in stories from other refugees.

But this isn't a story about a war-torn country.  It's the story about a girl trying to find the truth about her past and live with her future.  She was sheltered before she came here, but in a good way.  She understands American culture, she's just never had to fit in in the middle of it.  Surrounded by new people and places she begins to find herself and a new place.

Just as she begins to settle, things begin to fall apart again.  Having been a large part of the politics in her country, her mother isn't content to start over.  Her plots and schemes are twisted and I was amazed at how devious and cunning she was at the end.  This is a must read in the YA contemporary genre.

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review*

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