Saturday, January 25, 2014


The Tyrant's DaughterThe Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First sentence: My brother is the King of Nowhere.

It wasn't until after I had started reading that I realized this was a young adult title and it turned out to make no difference.

The story: When her father, the King, is killed in a coup, 15 year old Laila is forced to flee her unnamed Middle Eastern country with her mother and young brother.

From privilege to poverty, Laila struggles with the adjustment to living in the Washington, D.C. area.

Political deceit and conspiracy surround the family making the story a compelling read for all ages. Can Laila even trust her mother?

Being able to view our country through Laila's perceptive and questioning eyes is a useful and fascinating exercise, but there is more to the story than this. It provides an understandable introduction to the bleak conditions elsewhere in the world and to people who think differently than we do.

The story is told in first person and constructed in three sections. Each chapter has a one word title to help shape the story as Laila draws us into her world. Many of the observations require further contemplation. For example:
Around the lunch table everyone seems to have given something up-dairy, meat, gluten, sugar, carbs. Only in a land of plenty could people voluntarily go without so much.
Interesting characters, believable situations, and an intelligent narrator will keep you questioning and reading until the end.

An interesting note from the author follows the end of the story as well as a commentary by Dr. Cheryl Benard called Truth in Fiction. There is also a useful recommended reading list for young readers and adults.

As at least one reviewer commented that it may take librarians and teachers to 'sell' this book to its intended audience. The rest of us should encourage everyone we know to read this brave story.

Bottom Line: RECOMMENDED for all ages but especially YA (12 and up).

Title: The Tyrant's Daughter
Author: J.C. Carleson
Genre: YA fiction
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
No. of Pages: 304 pages
ISBN: 0449809978
Copyright: February 11, 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: NetGalley

Disclaimer: Invited by NetGalley to request and receive this title for an honest review. This book is not available until February 11, 2014.

J.C. Carleson is a former undercover CIA officer. Her near-decade of covert service took her around the globe, from bomb shelters in war zones to swanky cocktail parties in European capitals. A graduate of Cornell University, she lives outside Washington, DC. Visit her website at (from Amazon)

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