Thursday, 6 February 2014

Review: The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson

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. 

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Expected publication: February 11th 2014 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Kristine's Thoughts:
* I received an ARC of this book from Random House Publishing Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
Every now and again a book comes along that makes you stop and think. The Tyrant's Daughter is one of those books. We hear and see unimaginable things on the news every day about political turmoil, war, corrupt leadership and death in countries so far from our norm without much thought. It is easy to lay blame, distinguish a villain and perhaps even voice what we think should happen to said villain but do we stop and think about the effects and consequences on the children and families of that person? This is the story of what one young girl goes through after her father is assassinated and she is forced into exile and to leave the only life she knows.
Laila is a fifteen year old girl who is struggling with who she is and where she belongs after she, along with her mother and six year old brother, are forced into exile in the United States. She goes from a life of power and riches in her country (not specifically named in the book) to a life of poverty in a tiny apartment on the outskirts of Washington. She not only leaves a life of power but also a life of security guards, convoys and the constant sound of gunfire. It is here that she struggles to find the truth about who she is, where she fits in and how to survive in a much different culture while grieving for her dead father at the same time. 
Who was her father? From careful research she learns terrible things about the "Dictator" and the things he did but she only knew him as a loving, attentive father. Why is her mother so determined to go back and have her young brother take over leadership? Who are these strange people that keep visiting her apartment? These are all questions that Laila must come to terms with while at the same time trying to adjust to her new life.

This book is told from Laila's point of view through short, easy to read chapters. Once I got started, I couldn't put it down. Her struggles and emotions throughout the book haunted me and stayed with me long after I finished the last page. Although the ending was not ideal, it was honest and realistic in a story where there can never really be a happily ever after. Even though it is geared to the young adult population I believe that readers of all ages will benefit and enjoy this thought provoking and unique story. Although fictional, it is a definite eye opener.


About the Author
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.


  1. This sounds really great! I'm definitely adding it to my TBR pile (: I also LOVE the cover and have it posted on my book cover meme today!
    Great review!!
    Tina @ Pages of Comfort
    Pages of Comfort

  2. It's a very quick and easy read. You should enjoy it!