Friday, May 23, 2014

The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson

Title: The Tyrant's Daughter 
Author: J. C. Carleson
Publication Date: February 11th 2014
Publisher: Random House Children

Rating: 5 out of 5

*ARC provided by NetGalley*

Goodreads Blurb:

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.

The Tyrant's Daughter was a mash up of political tension and teenage worries- two that normally wouldn't go that well together. But the clash is what makes this book more real and unique. Also, the fact that Ms. Carleson has background knowledge and experience makes it impossible to doubt this book is based on a true story.  

My only peeve is that we didn't get to know all the characters better- they all had so many stories to tell and although I enjoyed listening to Laila's voice, I wanted to know her mother's story, and also the stories of all the others deeply affected by this war. But through Laila's voice we are able to see the stark contrast between the two worlds and how she struggles to find which one she belongs in. Throughout the book, Laila compares her values to the ones of others around her and struggles to make sense of whether or not she should move on. 

After moving to America, Laila discovers her sheltered upbringing and also her one sided view on the war- she realizes that everything she was told as a child was wrong and that her father was not a fair king but actually a ruthless tyrant. So when her mother gets re-involved with the crisis, Laila has the choice to ignore the painful reminders of her exile and move on, or attempt to get involved and find out how her family was responsible for  the war ravaging her country. She chooses to uncover the secrets- but her actions only further ensnare her in her mother's trap. At times, I really felt as if the mother and Laila were on opposite sides and the mother's motives, personally, were hard to understand. 

The other characters in this book were colorful additions and helped emphasize both Laila's hidden baggage and her complex personality. I enjoyed this book and especially enjoyed how the author was able to effectively present Laila's point of view.