The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson

Book: The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson

Pages: 304
Publisher: Knopf Books For Young Readers
Date Published: February 11th, 2014
Date Started: February 7th, 2014
Date Finished: February 9th, 2014


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.



(I received this book from Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not offered money or any other sort of compensation for this review.)

I am really excited to have the opportunity to review this book. This book is completely different from the other YA novels I have been reading lately. In fact, I think that this book crosses so many genres that its difficult for me to sit here and say that this is just a YA novel.

So what is the book about? It’s about a young girl named Laila who is considered royalty in her country that is located in what I presume to be somewhere in the middle-east. Her father is the king, but others would argue that he is a dictator. However, when her father is killed, she must flee with her mother and her brother to Washington D.C., where the U.S. government has promised to keep them safe. But these promises don’t come for free. Laila must deal with having to acclimate herself into a new culture as a high school student while dealing with the politics that have followed her from her home country.

Now, this isn’t your everyday teenage story. But I think it is a story that still needs to be heard. More and more in the news we hear about regimes being taken down, dictators being outed, military coups, and U.S. involvement. But rarely do we ever hear about the families that are left behind. What happens to the women? The Tyrant’s Daughter sheds some light on those women. I think what I liked about this book was the fact that it showed that women do have some power. Laila’s mother was constantly trying to get her family into a better situation. I mean what mother wouldn’t? They were living in a palace with servants one day and then faced with eviction from their apartment another day. However, I think that Laila had an even better strength. She wanted the ability to control her own future, but she did not want to manipulating. She knew it was a great talent that her mother had, but Laila had a big heart. She had no knowledge of what was really going on in her country, but she didn’t go running into the hands of another culture and dismiss what she had always known. She respected where she had come from, and she knew, truly deep inside, that was where she belonged. She came to this decision after she tried to fit into a new culture and a new school. She didn’t go kicking and screaming, she did it with dignity.

I think that an important message that came out of this book was the fact that there others out there that suffer more than we do. Carleson does this well by showcasing Laila’s friendship with Emmy. Emmy is going through a tough time with her parent’s divorce, and she even chastises Laila for not being a supporting friend. I understood that Emmy was hurting, but she kept tiptoeing around Laila and never really understanding what Laila was going through. But Laila did not once get angry with Emmy for this. She knew it was her burden alone to share, and I think this made her very regal. Laila keeps referring to herself as the invisible queen. I think this is one of the aspects of that title. She has to deal with the problems of others, but no one really cares about her problems. People also dismiss her as a nothing, but expect everything out of her. Laila is a very respectable character for the way that she conducts herself.

As for the ending of the book, I am quite unsure what to make of it. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, so I won’t mention much. It wasn’t a very final ending, but I liked the prospect of being able to decide for myself what really happened.

And one last note, I think the author did a fantastic job of writing this story. She did her research well. The author was once in the C.I.A. and had to see many of the horrors that were seen in countries like the one Laila was from. I thought it was very interesting that the author didn’t pick a specific country as the basis for the story. I think it gives a better understanding of what many women go through, as they share a common burden.

This book was a nice break from the other YA books that I have been reading. Really, I think anyone could read this book. Any adult or teenager. It had many themes that were recognizable, especially if you watch the news.

This book comes out on Tuesday the 11th, so check it out!

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