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The Tyrant's Daughter [NOOK Book]

Overview

THERE: In an unnamed Middle Eastern country, fifteen-year-old Laila has always lived like royalty. Her father is a dictator of sorts, though she knows him as King—just as his father was, and just as her little brother Bastien will be one day. Then everything changes: Laila's father is killed in a coup. 

HERE: As war surges, Laila flees to a life of exile in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Overnight she becomes a nobody. Even as she ...
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The Tyrant's Daughter

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Overview

THERE: In an unnamed Middle Eastern country, fifteen-year-old Laila has always lived like royalty. Her father is a dictator of sorts, though she knows him as King—just as his father was, and just as her little brother Bastien will be one day. Then everything changes: Laila's father is killed in a coup. 

HERE: As war surges, Laila flees to a life of exile in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Overnight she becomes a nobody. Even as she adjusts to a new school and new friends, she is haunted by the past. Was her father really a dictator like the American newspapers say? What was the cost of her family's privilege? 

Far from feeling guilty, her mother is determined to regain their position of power. So she's engineering a power play—conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to gain a foothold to the throne. Laila can't bear to stand still as yet another international crisis takes shape around her. But how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations?
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
03/01/2014
Gr 9 Up—Growing up in an unidentified Middle Eastern country, Laila had no reason to question her parents' narrative-her father was king, and her privileged life was one afforded by birthright. That changes, however, when her father is killed in a coup, and she, her younger brother, and their mother flee the family's palace compound with aid from the U.S. government. Now in a suburb of Washington, DC, the 15-year-old is exposed for the first time to a Western view of both her homeland and father. The news reports of a tyrant whose regime was responsible for atrocities against its people are at odds with her memories of a loving parent. A devastated Laila, realizing that "his was an authority based more on bloodshed than blood right," begins to question all that she's been told. Laila struggles to adjust to American life; Carleson portrays her peers as rather flat in order to underscore Laila's emotional distance from other teens. Although Laila's mother is still embroiled in dealings with the CIA, this smart, complex novel refrains from falling into clandestine spy tropes and deftly shows that innocents get caught on both sides of any conflict. The concluding pages leave Laila's story open-ended, but readers will hope that the teen's good nature continues to prevail.—Amanda Mastrull, School Library Journal
Publishers Weekly
★ 11/18/2013
Filled with political intrigue and emotional tension, Carleson’s riveting novel features a teenage refugee caught in a web of deceit and conspiracy. Fifteen-year-old Laila grew up believing she was a princess and that her younger brother, Bastien, was heir to the throne. After her father’s assassination, however, when her family flees to the United States, she learns that the world views her father as a cruel dictator (“ ‘Repressive regime,’ that damning alliteration, chases him throughout the newspapers like a dog nipping at his heels”). Carleson dramatically illustrates Laila’s culture shock in a suburb of Washington, D. C., not knowing whether she can trust her friendly American classmates or if she should befriend fellow refugees resentful of her father’s power. She is even unsure about her own mother, whose secret telephone conversations and sporadic financial windfalls make Laila suspicious. The heroine’s homeland is never named, but readers will find it easy to draw parallels to current events. Raising as many questions as answers about Laila’s fate, the novel challenges social values close to home and abroad. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jessica Regel, Foundry Literary + Media. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
The Boston Globe, June 21, 2014:
"Carleson, a former undercover CIA officer, infuses her story with compelling details and gripping authenticity."

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, November 18, 2013:
"Filled with political intrigue and emotional tension, Carleson’s riveting novel features a teenage refugee caught in a web of deceit and conspiracy."

Starred Review, Kirkus, December 15, 2013:
“Laila is a complex and layered character whose nuanced observations will help readers better understand the divide between American and Middle Eastern cultures. Smart, relevant, required reading.”

BookPage, February 2014:
"As a former undercover CIA agent, debut author J.C. Carleson has a firm grasp on the world of espionage and power plays. She is able to take her intimate knowledge of this secretive world, an often-avoided gray area of morality, and craft an amazingly gripping and honest tale. Carleson keeps her readers feeling as though they have just returned from traveling in a foreign land, making those faraway issues feel a little more personal—a feat few can achieve with words alone."

Booklist, February 1, 2014:
"This is more than just Laila’s story; rather, it is a story of context, beautifully written (by a former undercover CIA agent), and stirring in its questions and eloquent observations about our society and that of the Middle East."

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February 2014:
"Timely, relevant, and fascinating, Laila’s story offers readers an accessible understanding of the seemingly intractable nature of Middle East politics. An equally fascinating additional note by Dr. Cheryl Benard offers more real-world context for Laila’s fictional but very credible position. Resources for further research are included."

"This story is important on so many levels. It invites readers to contemplate paradox and contradictions in ways that few books do: how a friend’s loyalty trumps her annoying habits; how you can love your country and still be honest about its shortcomings; how betrayal might be justifiable. But mostly it’s a touching, suspenseful story about two children who don’t belong anywhere. Every American should read this book. It’s an eye-opener." —Suzanne Fisher Staples, Newbery Honor-winning author of Shabanu

"It's a story both foreign and familiar, global and intimate. A tense chess game where you'll think you know the final moves only to learn you've been outsmarted.”  —Dana Reinhardt, award-winning author of The Things a Brother Knows

Mashable, June 17, 2014:
"This compelling look at someone fighting desperately against a truth she'd rather not believe challenges you to think deeper."

Children's Literature - Elisabeth Greenberg
The narrator, fifteen-year-old Laila, has been uprooted from her childhood home of luxury in an unnamed country in the Middle East to a two-bedroom apartment in Virginia after her father is executed by her uncle. Her mother seems oblivious to the new circumstances until she is persuaded by the CIA to entertain some countrymen who would never support her husband. Laila’s brother is the King of Nowhere and is both an exasperation and a touching reminder of her lost innocence. Laila tries to navigate American society with the “mentorship” of Emily, not quite knowing what is true and real and what is image. She is pushed to approach the taciturn Amir, slowly building a relationship based on a common language and a memory of home, and she is approached by Ian, a compassionate teen who understands a bit of how confusing Laila’s new life can be. As Laila tries to fit into her new world—letting herself be made up and clothed immodestly by traditional standards for a school dance, she also begins to discover that her former life of luxury was built not on her father’s royalty but on his dictatorship and looting of his own countrymen. Led by her concern for her country into a betrayal of those working for a revolution, she finds herself caught in a web of political manipulation involving the violent deaths of families she knows. Knowing that her family will return home as CIA pawns, she steals the info for her father’s international accounts as a personal insurance policy. Written by a former CIA operative, this book captures Laila’s confusion, aspirations, intelligence, and social attitudes while painting a bleak picture of unnamed Middle Eastern countries. While this book will not enhance readers’ political knowledge, it may deepen their understanding of how history is written by the victors. Reviewer: Elisabeth Greenberg; Ages 12 up.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-11-20
A teenage girl from an unnamed Middle Eastern country attempts to come to terms with her dictator father's bloody legacy in this absorbing character-driven novel authored by a former CIA official. Fifteen-year-old Laila lives in a shabby apartment outside of Washington, D.C., with her mother and little brother. She misses her homeland, but return is impossible since her uncle had her father assassinated and took control of the government. "I'm half Here. I'm half There. I'm a girl divided, which is to say I'm no one at all." While her mother schemes with both American officials and rebels from their country to remedy their untenable situation, Laila reluctantly begins to enjoy the simple freedoms of school and friendships. But worrisome thoughts of her mother's secretive phone calls and the mysterious CIA agent who lurks around their apartment are never far from her mind. And how will she ever reconcile what she now knows about her father the dictator with the loving man who raised her? Carleson shrewdly makes what has become a sadly familiar story on the evening news accessible by focusing on the experiences of one innocent girl at the center of it. Laila is a complex and layered character whose nuanced observations will help readers better understand the divide between American and Middle Eastern cultures. Smart, relevant, required reading. (author's note, commentary, further reading) (Fiction. 13 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449810002
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 2/11/2014
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 125,249
  • Age range: 12 years
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

J. C. CARLESON is a former undercover CIA officer who has navigated war zones, jumped out of airplanes, and worked on the frontlines of international conflicts. She now lives and writes in Virginia with her husband and two young sons. Her previous publications include the novel Cloaks and Veils, and Work Like a Spy: Business Tips from a Former CIA Officer. 
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 17, 2014

    i read this book in a day and a half its really that good.

    i read this book in a day and a half its really that good.

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  • Posted August 9, 2014

    In The Tyrant's Daughter a big question is asked: What if I didn

    In The Tyrant's Daughter a big question is asked: What if I didn't know he was doing all these horrible things? Fifteen-year-old Laila
    is asking herself this very question about her father, a dictator, killed in a coup which sent Laila, her mother, and her brother fleeing
    their home. Now in Washington D.C. Laila is finding out that her father is not the man she thought he was when atrocities against her
    people seem to be the doing of her father. How can someone so sweet and loving towards her brutally murder so many people. Torn
    between old customs but wanting to fit in at school and make friends Laila has to find a balance between them that is all her own in
    order to cope with all the changes in environment and the changes also going on inside of her. A wonderfully written YA novel.
    The narration fits perfect for this genre her tone and style is not to adult but just where it needs to be for those young adult readers.
    The book tackles a hard subject and does it with tact and without to much scary details. 

    4 stars means to me that the book is: A great read. Memorable and highly entertaining. Recommended, but for whatever reason, not
    the all consuming experience that I feel characterizes a five star book. Maybe one or two minor issues.  
    Discover: A change in perspective of how we view the families of dictators and sultans. 

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  • Posted May 19, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    This book was not at all what I had expected at first - it was d

    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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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    I havent read this yet but.....

    ........im glad that it has a girl of a different race. I swear all the books in america are about white girls, like um...there are other ethnicities out there, why dont we talk/write about them?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2014

    "My brother the king does not like that he has to share a b

    "My brother the king does not like that he has to share a bedroom with me.
    I don't like it either.  So I pretend he's not there.  I ignore his king-sized tantrums and the dirty royal socks that he leaves on my bedspread.  I pretend not to hear him when he tells me what to do."   
    The Tyrant's Daughter allows the reader the rare look at the innocent people behind the tyrant's of the world.....the wives, the children, the ones whom they love and who love them back....the ones who are left to suffer the guilt of the pain the tyrant caused.   I had never really thought of the many innocent people behind terrorists like Saddam Hussein.  They too have wives and children who are hurt and shocked by their actions and just want their husbands and fathers to hold them, to rock them, to sing one more lullaby to them.   They may even innocently participate in some of the destruction and devastation as they are manipulated and used as pawns in the game of life, of war, of hatred. 
    I highly recommend this intense look into a fictional life of a fictional teenage daughter of a world tyrant.   It reminds me of watching a horror movie, where it is too horrible to watch and too fascinating to look away.     5 ***** 
    I was given a kindle version of this book by netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

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  • Posted March 1, 2014

    The authors plan was to make this book analogous about where in

    The authors plan was to make this book analogous about where in the middle east this character is from, they did a great job. I found that the story although fictional in nature, does show the disparaging differences between the two cultures and shows very well the inter actions of new immigrants wither refuge or by choice in the depth of american society. our abundance and expectation of service and production is daunting to most people from various cultures around the world. the idea that the child of a dictator, or tyrant sees themselves as a form of royalty, and entitlement may be hard for most people to comprehend. this is a great book to put into the hands of children to allow them to see that those they see as different not only look at the world differently but see our world as strange...

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  • Posted February 22, 2014

    Two Worlds:   There- The Middle East: Fifteen year old Laila

    Two Worlds:  




    There- The Middle East: Fifteen year old Laila believes her father is the King before he is killed in a coup orchestrated by his brother, the general; and her family is sent away to a country so different from their own, leaving behind more than just material things




    Here: Living in exile in Washington D.C. where the discovery hits: her father wasn’t the king. She was never a queen. He was a dictator. Her family story is a lie. She is the “Invisible Queen of Nowhere”




    Throughout the novel, Laila is torn between her two different, complex worlds: the There and Here. There, although war torn, she believed her family was royalty. The only friends she had were crafted by her mother; the countless gatherings of women and girls screened. There was no proper schooling. Here: she has friends she doesn’t know how to keep or be around, one of whom is the bearer of bad news that tells her the truth about her father; or, how other countries viewed her father’s rule. There are boys. Internet access. It is a life she can’t get used to.




    There are countless difficulties she faces; including near poverty as her mother refuses to get a job. When she starts to work with the CIA, there are still times there is no money for food or rent. There are men the mother has to do business with from their country that are slightly sketchy and hostile, but with reason. Laila is front and center as she sees her mother try to get her and her family back into power. All the power plays and conniving ways she tries to get her way.




    As Laila watches her new life grow and fall in front of her;  her mother tries for one more power play; and, her brother constantly says he’s the King. The relationship between mother and daughter gets challenged as Laila’s mother starts to pull Laila into her plan in a subtle, conniving way that makes Laila sick and torn. In the end, this is a book worth looking at.




    Written by a former CIA agent, The Tyrant’s Daughter portrays what it is like for a young teenager in political exile. This isn’t a topic you typically see in young adult fiction. Sure, there are books about immigrants, but none that tackle what it is like being in political exile, learning what you thought you knew about your life was a lie through a technology that was very limited and control in your birth country.




    A relatively quick read, Carleson wrote a fresh take on what it’s like to live in the war torn Middle East, but on the inside and outside of it all. Laila’s struggles seemed very realistic to me. I could feel her pain, missing her home; even though she realized how suffocating her life was, she missed the structure. When she told the Middle Eastern version of Cinderella to her friends, I felt her pain when she didn’t understand why her American friends only saw the brutality of it. There was something so raw and true about this story; truly, only someone like Carleson could write.




    I liked this book. I didn’t love it. I read it in a couple of sittings, maybe three; but, there wasn’t a lot that truly drew me in. I found it as a good source to understanding the Middle Eastern culture more, and Middle Eastern immigrants especially; regardless if their father was a dictator or not. Would I suggest it as a required reading book in a High School history/world culture class, I have thought about it. There was some love interest in it that makes the book a little more contemporary and less educational. But, I think there is such a disconnect between citizens and immigrants, especially from the Middle East. Their culture is so different from ours. The Cinderella-esque story alone is a good enough reason why I think teachers should think about teaching this book.




    There were some technical problems I found, like character development; but, none that were very distracting that I wouldn’t recommend this book. I hope you give this book a once over, at least.

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  • Posted February 18, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Laila is a 14 year-old girl who has lived like royalty and sudde

    Laila is a 14 year-old girl who has lived like royalty and suddenly finds out that her family really isn’t loyalty and never has been. As a matter of fact, what she discovers about her family makes her literally ill with horror and fear. For she mourns her father who loved her dearly but she also mourns the man as tyrant and killer who has tortured and killed thousands; at least he is responsible for these acts even if he has not literally carried them out himself in a single-handed way. The word her friends use about the children’s fairy tales and practices of her father’s rule is “barbaric,” a painful word that sears through her mind and feelings for days and weeks. How does one cope with her father’s guilt, that which took the lives of families and friends of people she actually knows in America?
    Now Laila is in America. Several people are interested in her, the man who is attempting to convince her mother to cooperate with CIA interests, the man who doesn’t trust Laila initially but eventually will come to accept her at face value, and a normal American boy who wants to write a journalistic account of her father’s life and her experiences in the nameless country from which she is in exile. Its these relationships that evolve in dramatic ways that cause her to grow up fast. Whether the reader thinks this evolution is healthy and good for Laila is left up to his or her imagination!
    We learn that her Uncle is now ruling the land Laila once called “home.” He spends his time frantically calling Lails’s mother. Over time, Laila experiments with her new life in the United States, dressing like other girls do, dancing, and cultivating friendships that are “normal” for Americans but very, very different from what she knew before. Meanwhile, she learns the truth about her family’s place of “royalty,” and that changes her forever. Her choices after that will affect her family and her former country forever!
    The author tells us, after the story ends, the seeds that planted this unforgettable story in her head and what she wished the reader to experience throughout the account and afterward. J. C. Carleson brilliantly succeeds in her quest and the reader may reach his or her own decision regarding same. This is a must read for American teenagers and adults, a side of life that could be any teenager in the Middle East or America, a side that calls for momentous decisions that could have planned or unforeseen consequences for history. Superb novel and highly recommended historical fiction or contemporary fiction!

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  • Posted February 18, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    A MUST READ FOR ALL! I would like to thank NetGalley and Random

    A MUST READ FOR ALL!

    I would like to thank NetGalley and Random House Children's/Alfred A. Knopf BFYR for granting me the chance to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Though I received the e-book for free that in no way influenced this review.

    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.




    Though the book began a bit slowly for me, things rapidly picked up. This is a heartbreaking tale of family, betrayal, corruption, and the breakdown of humanity in the face of oppression. Yet throughout it all a ribbon of strength and vulnerability is woven between all of the horrors, greed, manipulation, and shame.

    Laila is, in her own words, the Invisible Queen. Her father was the dictator of an oil-rich country, as his father before him had been, and so on for many generations. Life was often short and ended violently, yet Laila was sheltered from the atrocities done in her father's name. Maybe done by his direct order. She will never know, just as she feels she will never feel untainted by her existence in such a corrupt place.

    The story follows Laila as she struggles to transition from one life to the next. She grew up in a country where women wore veils to cover their faces, arranged marriages still happened often, and women had virtually no rights. Though she didn't really learn the last bit until she'd been in the US for a bit.

    Witnessing her struggles to understand this new culture and reconcile herself to living in it is fascinating and touching. She is a sweet young woman, not at all jaded as one might expect. Her challenges with making friends, and learning to be a friend, are painful and also very enlightening, as are her attempts to relate to a boy she likes. Thrown from one extreme to the other with no time to acclimate, it is no surprise that she feels as if she is coming unglued.

    The longer she is in the States the more opportunities she begins to see for herself. However at the same time she is also learning about her family, more specifically her father and his regime. She is horrified, both by what was condoned, and by her complete ignorance of the world she lived in. Which is what makes all the manipulation and betrayal by someone she trusted that much more difficult to bear. Rather than bow to the pain of betrayal she chooses to learn, and manages this without losing her sweetness. Eventually she makes the decision to ensure that in the future her voice will be heard, and takes a page from her mother's play book to ensure just that. She is ready to return home, but unlike the others jostling for position in the newly returned regime, her intent is to begin making amends for generations of horrors perpetrated by her family. She doesn't need to be the center of attention like her mother, nor a puppet ruler like her seven year old brother. She is patient, like any good Invisible Queen. Her time will come, for she intends to see that it does. However she will not be what everyone expects.

    Ms. Carelson has done a remarkable job of blending international politics and intrigue with the personal face of such grand-scale maneuvering. Taking from personal experience and the news she created an amazing portrait of the human face of cultures many Westerns have limited ideas about, if any. While Laila was the primary character, we also get to witness the pain of individuals living under the boot heel of a regime, showing us more than one side to the same story. Her deft touch also allows for us to witness the response to this situation from average American teenagers, showing their limited knowledge. While some desire to learn more, others far to concerned with the next local scandal to care, and yet others fall somewhere in the middle. All said this is an beautifully told story, one I would make required reading in all American high schools.

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  • Posted February 17, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Sixteen-year old Laila has to share her bedroom with her br

    Sixteen-year old Laila has to share her bedroom with her brother, the king. She calls her six-year old brother the King of Nowhere and she herself, the Invisible Queen as they are now exiled into the U.S. of A. Home of the unending supply of cereal, Starbucks and short skirts, Laila is not happy to be living in the states. Too much is happening and she just can’t get a handle on it. Too many changes are occurring since her father’s death, when will it all end. Killed at the hands of his own brother, Laila is confused at why her uncle took her father’s life. There are many new adjustments Laila deals with as she adjusts to school from uncovering her face, short dresses and boys. Her new friend Emmy is helping her handle these changes and Ian is fond of these changes. Ian’s parents were missionaries so he knows about moving around and Laila and Ian hit it off. At home, Laila is concerned about her mother who has started to host meeting and drink heavily. Tensions run high as the visitors arrive quite frequently to their apartment. Not a social gathering, “I recognize their features.” from “The Trouble Spot, my father used to call it.” Laila is now on alert, what exactly is her mother doing talking to men from this region?
    So much mystery surrounded this book as I read it. I didn’t know where Laila’s family was from exactly, you didn’t know why her father was killed and then there was her mother’s involvement with the men and these meetings. I kept reading along trying to uncover the mysteries as Laila tried to handle school, her brother and her mom. I was surprised at her brother’s attitude with the move, I expected stronger emotions from him. I realize he was six-years old but with his father’s death and the transition to the states, I was waiting for the ball to drop. It was a fast read and perhaps that was the anticipation as I was reading that it went so fast. When I got to the end, I was shocked. I kept looking for more pages, something else for me to read as I wanted more. So, I guess you can say, I didn’t like the ending as it left too many things open for me. I will have to say, she is smart, that Laila. She’d make a good Queen. Thank you NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book to review.

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  • Posted February 14, 2014

    4.5 stars When I received the e-mail from NetGalley that I was

    4.5 stars

    When I received the e-mail from NetGalley that I was pre-approved by Alfred A. Knopf to review J.C. Carleson's The Tyrant's Daughter, I did not immediately realize that it was actually being published by Knopf's Books for Young Readers division. I'm glad I didn't; I normally pass on books "for children," and I would have hated to miss this book.

    The Tyrant's Daughter is a beautifully written exploration of a very specific immigrant experience: that of the daughter of a Middle Eastern dictator who was killed during a military coup, forcing his family (eponymous daughter Laila, her mother Yasmin, and her younger brother Bastien) to flee for their lives to the United States. Laila has to negotiate the world of an American high school, with its short skirts and dirty dancing, while simultaneously learning how the rest of the world viewed her father.

    The book raises such issues as whether, and how much, an immigrant should try to integrate into American culture; how to reconcile love with the recognition that the loved one has done terrible things; to what extent should the family of an evildoer be held responsible for that evil; and when, if ever, is betrayal an ethical response. The Tyrant's Daughter is written in the present tense, giving Laila's experiences a sense of immediacy and allowing the reader to see through her eyes as she struggles with these issues. As Laila says toward the end of the book, "The road to hell is paved with tiny, reasonable, apparently sensible compromises. It is paved with minuscule, forgivable human impulses and emotions that can cause utter havoc nonetheless."

    Carleson's prose is lyrical, with surprising juxtapositions. Among the passages I particularly enjoyed are the following:
    Mother swirls the ice in her otherwise empty glass, and the cubes rattle like boozy castanets until they melt.

    I know very little about [the other students who come from elsewhere] - rather than bonding over our shared experiences, we repel one another, as though afraid our foreignness might metastasize if we get too close.

    The books on the shelves have turned into weapons - they're deceptively still as they lie in wait, loaded with painful truths.

    The "bonus backmatter" is excellent, with further reading suggestions for both younger readers and adults.

    I hope that The Tyrant's Daughter will not be shelved with the Ramona series and the Twilight Saga; it deserves a place at the front of the store, where it can attract readers of all ages.

    I received a free copy of The Tyrant's Daughter through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Posted February 12, 2014

    ARC Copy. I like this book. This is not the normal books I would

    ARC Copy. I like this book. This is not the normal books I would read but I am glad that I was picked for the ARC copy. It was interesting to read Laila's point of view of how different the USA is to the Middle East. A lot things we take for granted or do, isn't what is done in the Middle East. She adapted pretty good to her life in the US. Though she was considered a "Princess" in her Country she was still sheltered to everything that was going on in the World and in her own Country or maybe more because she was considered a "Princess". I like the fact that we get to see what it's like through the eyes of a 15 year old girl being thrust into an entirely different world. I would highly recommend reading this book and seeing the world through someone else's eyes.

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  • Posted February 12, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange

    received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was given or taken to alter this review.



    After her father is killed, Laila and her family flee the Middle East¿ and are forced to live in exile on United States soil. Everything isn't what it seems though and Laila finds it difficult to leave her past behind.



    First of all, that cover is stunning. I love it.



    I've never read anything like The Tyrant's Daughter before. The entire concept is really interesting though. Laila has been taught to be silent, invisible. All her life she's never had a say in anything. Now she finds herself in America and suddenly she not only has options, but now she has to choose. She suddenly finds herself in a land where information, food, and freedom abound. When she enters a library, she can hardly believe all the information that's at her fingertips. But that information sets her down a path of no return.



    As if moving to a different country and losing her father weren't enough, for the first time, Laila learns that her father was not the man she thought he was. Her every memory contradicts the words she finds to describe him. Dictator. Tyrant. She reads article upon article about the awful consequences of her father's tyranny. And then she comes face to face with Amir, a boy whose family has been split up because of her father.



    What do you do when the father you loved turns out to be an evil guy? What do you do with that information? How do you see him? How do you see your manipulative mother? My heart went out to Laila. She had no clue that her father was tyrant.



    Her mother was just.... I have mixed feelings about her. It's so despicable that she'd use her naïve daughter to land the final blow in her manipulative game. At the same time though, she cares about her children. She's just to twisted.



    I really liked Amir. I had hopes for him and Laila, but alas, this isn't a love story and their story ended the only way it could - in anger and heartbreak.



    The Tyrant's Daughter does not have a happy ending. How can it when the Middle East has just slipped into another tyrannical pair of hands? But Laila does find inner strength that will help her survive in the Middle East, so there's that. Overall, I found the ending to be very honest and it seemed realistic.

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  • Posted February 11, 2014

    Interesting Plot Laila is a typical teen, but she is in extr

    Interesting Plot




    Laila is a typical teen, but she is in extraordinary circumstances. Teen readers will enjoy reading about the contrasts of Laila’s old life and now her new life in the United States. Not only is Laila the new kid in school, but also she is new to the lifestyle, the attitudes, and the culture. Since Laila grew up in a cloistered society, she is sometimes shocked by the actions of the teens she meets. She learns that her father was a tyrant, often ordering the death of others without remorse. Laila’s devious mother adds a dimension to Laila’s life that adds depth to Laila’s struggle. 




    She attempts to deal with her situation from an uninformed standpoint, making choices that she sees as the most ethical. Those choices would make for great discussion. This could definitely be used to supplement a World History class even though Carleson chose to use a conglomeration of countries rather than naming a specific one.




    I recommend this book for teens or adults who are introspective or who enjoy studying others. This is definitely for lovers of reality fiction.




    I received an ARC from NetGalley.

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  • Posted February 11, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful read I received an advance reader edition of this boo

    Wonderful read

    I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House Children's Publishing and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

    This book was a solid 4 star read for me. I thought the author did a wonderful job with a difficult topic. The book was well written and I thought that the characters felt authentic.

    Laila is a teenage girl that finds herself thrust into a new life. Her family has been relocated to the United States after her father's murder. Laila must learn to navigate school and her family's new status quickly. She must learn to fit in with a new set of rules because every social aspect of her life has been turned upside down. Laila learns a lot of things about the reality of her father's rule and what type of leader he really was. She does make some American friends and begins to fit into American society. She also spends time with someone from her country, Amir. Amir is not someone that she would have spent time with back home but she learns a lot from him here.

    This was the kind of book that made me think. Laila did not know what kind of ruler her father was. Are there cases like that in life? How would the sheltered family of a dictator actually know what was going on? Laila finds herself in a completely different social environment and actually does fairly well. I wonder if I would have been able to adapt so easily. I think one of the main things that Laila learns is to start questioning the information being given to her.

    I would definitely recommend this book for really just about any reader. It is a YA book but I found it to be a wonderful read and let's just say that I am way beyond the YA category. I plan to read other works by this author.

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  • Posted February 11, 2014

    The story being told from a young adult perspective is what intr

    The story being told from a young adult perspective is what intrigued me about this book. Laila is only 15-years-old, but has already experienced horrible circumstances in her young life that most of us only see on the news.

    I had my ups and downs with this book. When Laila discovered the truth about her "king" father, I sympathized with her struggle to see him through different eyes and how something that earth shattering could be almost unbelievable for her. Her moral compass seemed to be pointing in the right direction and I liked that she took initiative in trying to do the right thing, despite being just a teenager. Seeing America and American teenagers through her eyes was a little jarring for me at times, but when I stopped to think about it, some of her observations were very insightful.

    On the other hand, I don't think Laila made a sincere effort to assimilate. She obviously had a lot going on in her personal life, yet she never really tried to make friends and was self-centered to the point that I found it difficult to like her sometimes. Her moods turned on a dime so that she almost seemed to be two different people. With the exception of Ian, the American teenagers were portrayed as very frivolous and spoiled. Yes, this could be an accurate description of some teens, but as I'm around teenagers a good percentage of the time, I felt it was an unfair stereotype and rather one-dimensional.

    I enjoyed the author's style of straightforward writing and thought the story moved along very well. Although I'm not sure of the appeal this book will have to its intended YA audience, I would recommend it to teens in order to gain a broader perspective of the world outside their own.

    Even though book wasn't my typical choice of reading, I'm glad I stepped out of the box and read this book.
    This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.

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