The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson

As a firm believer in the idea that fiction, when well written, can bring a new understanding of other cultures and viewpoints to a reader,  I am pleased to present one such book. The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson is just one book, and it’s plotting, pacing and point of view geared all to a YA audience is perfectly suited to provide readers with a new viewpoint and understanding.

Laila is a fifteen year old Middle Eastern girl, daughter of the King, or tyrant depending on your viewpoint.  When he is assassinated, she and her mother and young brother flee to a new home in the DC suburbs.  From everyone knowing your name and treating you with deference, to a new country where the opinions about your country, your father and your lifestyle are all different than what you believe, or thought you knew.  Deftly mixing the story of a young girl finding her way are the subplots that are intermixed in the story: the slow descent into civil war of her homeland, the possible dangers to Laila as a pawn for the battling factions, and the usual teenaged angst and drama all mix together to bring a readable and informative story to those who pick it up.

As a narrator, Laila is amazingly mature while still having a sense of being just 15, with observations that are mature and pointed, and informed with her own personal perspective and what she has seen and discovered since leaving her home country.  While there were some moments of interjection that I can completely imagine teens rolling their eyes, the injections of teen angst and dramatics are surprisingly realistic in both sound and feel.

There were some issues: there are several secondary characters that are more flat than developed fully, and I would have liked to have more sense of her mother’s desire and willingness to use all at her disposal (namely Laila and her brother) to reclaim her former life.  A few of the subplots just trickle off without resolution, and the final conclusion and twist was subtle, perhaps too much so.  The inclusion of the commentary from Dr. Bernard was something I do not see teens finding particularly interesting or necessary, but it does help to solidify the story, showing a firm grounding in the facts that are presented throughout this fictional account.

Teens and adults alike could read and appreciate this story, each gathering a different perspective and finding impact from certain scenes, characters or information.  I would heartily recommend this for readers who want some real-world in their reads, while not as draining as a non-fiction, the ideas and topics introduced will encourage readers to find more on the subject.

The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson

Title: The Tyrant's Daughter
Author: J C Carleson
Genre: Literary Fiction, Teen Reads
Published by: Knopf
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 304
Audio Length: 8 Hours 32 Minutes
Rated: four-stars
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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.

*Bonus Backmatter includes a note about the author's CIA past, and a commentary by RAND researcher and president of ARCH International, Dr. Cheryl Benard. Recommendations for further reading are also included.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About J C Carleson

J.C. Carleson never intended to be an author. Although she was always a proficient writer of term papers, reports, and other necessary but mundane documents, she didn't consider herself cut out for the creative life.

Nearly a decade as an officer in the CIA's clandestine service changed that.

With her head now brimming with stories of intrigue, scandal, and exotic locales, Carleson was finally ready to give writing a shot. Her fiction and non-fiction works alike tap into her unique experiences, drawing readers into the highly charged, real world of espionage.

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