Book Review–The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson


This is the 47th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

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The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson
Published February 11th 2014 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

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 picked up this book from the new section at my local library as I’m always on the lookout for books that are about characters from cultures that I know little about. This book helped me expand my mind more concerning people like Laila and her family–people who are stuck in a bad situation due to actions caused by their families.

In a way, this book kind of reminds me of The Book Thief, except instead of seeing the POV of citizens who do not agree with what those in power are doing, we see the POV of a daughter struggling to come to terms with what her father has done, how others view them, and how it affects her relationship with him.

I felt the author did a good job describing Lalia’s transition to living in America. I enjoyed reading her experiences with American culture, and also learning more about her own and how Americans may react to it. I also liked her relationship with her family, friends (especially Emmy), Ian, and Amir.

The book was a little hard to get into sometimes. I understand that Lalia is supposed to be a very guarded, cautious character, but sometimes it felt like a wall was being placed between me and her. Maybe that was the idea, but when I cannot connect well with a character, I find myself not caring quite as much about what is happening to them than I would if I cared more about them. While I felt bad for Laila and her family, it felt like I was feeling bad for them from a distance.

Overall, I enjoyed it. It’s probably not something I would read again in the future, but at the same time I am glad that I gave it a chance.




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