Summary and book reviews of The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson

The Tyrant's Daughter

By J.C. Carleson

The Tyrant's Daughter
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2014,
    304 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Rory L. Aronsky

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Book Summary

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.

PRETENDING

My brother is the King of Nowhere.This fact doesn't matter to anyone except my family— a rapidly shrinking circle of people who Used to Be. And, even for us, there are surprisingly few perks. Now we sit in our airless apartment, curtains closed against the outside world, pretending.

My mother pretends that nothing has changed.

She is good at this charade. Her every gesture oozes money and power now long gone. They wouldn't let her take her closets full of designer clothes when we left our country, but she still spends hours on her appearance— pretending that photographers might still want to take pictures of her every outing, even dressed as she is now in J. C. Penney sale-rack clothes and drugstore lipstick. Pretending her old life didn't die along with my father.

My brother is six.

I try to remember six. What it might feel like at that age to be told that you are the exiled ruler. That you deserve to be king. That someday soon you ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

The Tyrant’s Daughter vividly represents the teenage experience, not only in forging one’s identity in the world, but in learning that the world is scarcely ever simple; that it’s full of complexities and contradictions. Laila’s father loved her. But he was a tyrant. Her new friend Emmy doesn’t wear layers like Laila was required to in her country. But she’s not a whore because of that, as Laila thought early on. She wasn’t allowed to be affectionate with boys, or even know them as closely as she does Ian, who she meets at school. Laila can be an entirely new girl here in America - a girl who can embrace these complexities and contradictions; a girl who can finally be herself.   (Reviewed by Rory L. Aronsky).

Full Review Members Only (1212 words).

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Filled with political intrigue and emotional tension, Carleson's riveting novel features a teenage refugee caught in a web of deceit and conspiracy.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. 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.

Booklist

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.

Bookpage

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.

Author Blurb Suzanne Fisher Staples, Newbery Honor-winning author of Shabanu
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.

Author Blurb Dana Reinhardt, award-winning author of The Things a Brother Knows
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.

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Syrian Refugees

Unlike Laila, who is a member of the ruling family of her Middle Eastern country, most child refugees don't have the luxury of fleeing to a more hospitable country when their own plunges into war. While The Tyrant's Daughter is set in an unknown Middle-Eastern country probably closer to Iraq than Syria, the plight of the refugees in Syria is front and center in the news right now.

Syrian Refugee Center near the Turkish BorderAccording to a March 2014 National Geographic article, the number of refugees from Syria rose from 0 in January 2012 to 2,317,907 in December 2013, all "registered or awaiting registration with the UN." They primarily live in Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt. There are rapidly growing shortages of basic necessities, including food and medicine, and with ...

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