Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Tyrant's Daughter


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? 

As Americans, we have a stereotypical idea of what Middle Eastern people are like.  Our media portrays them as individuals who are vastly different from ourselves.  But are they really that different?  J. C. Carleson makes us ask this question and more as we look at Laila's life.  

Personally, I love to study other cultures.  So I was immediately intrigued by the synopsis of the book and had to look further.  What I found exceeded even by highest expectations.  Laila is a normal fifteen year-old girl.  She has the same insecurities and struggles for the most part.  The main difference is that she is also suffering culture shock from moving to the United States after living in the Middle East for her entire life as royalty.  

I lived a pretty sheltered life growing up and had to go through my own culture shock in my late teens, so I can relate to Laila and understand some of her struggles.  Even though my culture shock was to a much lesser degree, I still made some of the same observations of people around me that she did. 

From the title, we know that Laila's father is not only royalty, but he is a tyrant in the Middle East.  But Laila just knows him as "Dad."  She knows that he is important, but does not fully understand why.  She knows that he was killed by someone close to them, but who? And why? More importantly, when can they go home?

The Tyrant's Daughter is a great look into the culture of the Middle Eastern family structure in a positive light.  Carleson does not deem any culture right or wrong, it is simply a well-balanced view of two cultures with a great strory bridging between them.  

J. C. CARLESON is a former undercover CIA officer who has navigated war zones, jumped out of airplanes, and worked on the frontlines of international conflicts. She now lives and writes in Virginia with her husband and two young sons. Her previous publications include the novel Cloaks and Veils,and Work Like a Spy: Business Tips from a Former CIA Officer.


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