disclaimer – i was given an e-galley of this book by random house books for young readers in exchange for an honest review.
after her father was murdered in a coup, laila’s mother fled the country taking fifteen-year-old laila and her six-year-old brother with her. the united states is not just a new country for laila, it’s a whole new world. new people, new clothing, new food, new expectations about her behaviour, everything is new. everything, that is, except laila’s mother who is focused on the past, focused on arranging things so that the family can return and laila’s little brother can take his place as king.
let me get one thing out of the way at the outset: the tyrant’s daughter is a fantastic novel. laila is an incredibly empathetic character who has to grow up quickly when she’s suddenly confronted with the reality of who her father really was. her bewilderment in the face of american teenagers is believable, as is her struggle with decisions that should never be faced by a fifteen-year-old.
j . c. carleson writes an engaging and thought-provoking novel that is so much more than a “young adult” selection. her writing is compelling and she portrays the maneuverings behind the scenes in and related to a country torn by war without making judgments about who’s right and who’s wrong. her supporting characters are alive with passions of their own, and dance with nuance and tension. carleson doesn’t tell the story through explosions or bombs defused just in time or car chases but through character and emotion and struggle and heartbreak.
five out of five stars