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The Tyrant's Daughter

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  2,604 Ratings  ·  726 Reviews
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,
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Brady Fish No. The author could potentially make a sequel to this novel but nothing has been announced.
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Ash Wednesday
Feb 11, 2014 Ash Wednesday rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: YOU. Yes YOU. And that creepy guy sitting beside you.
02.11.14: THIS IS OUT TODAY!!!
I don't usually do this but it was such a lovely story not to be read. Goooooo!!!

Years are lifetimes in my world.

I read this book in a day, with one pit stop to the bathroom. I think I set this aside for 5 minutes when I reached the halfway mark when I noticed I was reading it WAY too fast. To say I was surprised given the weight and my unfamiliarity with the subject matter, is pretty much low-balling it.

I'm also sure getting selected to receive an ARC o
Amy (Foxy)
**4.75 Cultural stars**
"To me, it was simply a story with a message: family honor, redemption, and true love."

Laila is the Invisible Queen of the Middle East (easily ignored, easily dismissed). After her father is murdered she becomes a refugee in America along with her mother and younger brother. Adjusting to her new life in America is a night and day experience.


Things aren't as they seem and she discovers that within her own family. The betrayal runs deep within her network. The last part of
Lisbeth Avery {Domus Libri}
I was more than a bit apprehensive about The Tyrant's Daughter at first. While the synopsis sounded great, numerous warning flags popped up in my head. Not only was the subject matter was hard to pull off, but at the end of the day, J. C. Carleson was still a white, American author - no matter how extensively they'd traveled - and the book was about Muslim royalty. Not to mention my last encounter with YA books concerning Muslim teenagers...

Laila's story is an extraordinary one. After her father
Feb 25, 2014 Marvin rated it it was amazing
When The Tyrant's Daughter was offered to me for review, I was not aware that it was from Random House's Children's Books division, aka a Young Adult novel. If I have known this, I probably wouldn't have accepted it as I rarely review YA books. I glad I did read it because, YA or not, it may be a contender for best fiction in 2014.

Laila is a fifteen year old girl and the daughter of a controversial ruler of a foreign country. Her father is killed in a coup by her more traditional and military-mi
Jan 13, 2014 Kate rated it really liked it
I have a talent for being globally oblivious. Sure, I’ll scan the headlines enough to have a vague idea of what’s going on in the world. If you name a country, I maybe have a 75% chance of pointing to the correct spot on a map. I’m not proud of all the things I don’t know, but I always figured that the minimal information I managed to absorb was good enough. I guess you could call this book a wakeup call.

There are books that take you on adventures or simply offer a momentary escape from everyday
Moonlight Reader
Feb 08, 2014 Moonlight Reader rated it liked it
Disclosure: I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley.

I had mixed emotions about this book. It is ambitious, and engaging, and is a very fast read. I think I read it in about an hour and a half, while watching to the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I am not sure that it succeeded in all of it's ambitions, but I would generally recommend it.

It is a first person narrative from Laila, with very short chapters. I liked the narrator - she was convincing to me. The cast of this book is limite
I feel so conflicted about this book, whereas I loved the idea and the whole premise of it, I just couldn’t connect with the story.

My main problem was with our protagonist – Laila. I felt like I didn’t ‘know’ her, which is very weird since it’s written in first person narrative. All throughout the book, the narration bothered me, it felt very detached, like third person instead of first person POV. That’s the best I can describe it.

Now, even though this was lacking in emotion department, I stil
THIS IS A MUST READ for anyone curious about cultures so different from American practices. Although written for YA reading, this is an eye-opening experience for all age groups! Imagine being dropped in the middle of a dictatorial country whose religious beliefs require certain dress and conduct at all times, where voicing your opinion could mean torture or death. How difficult would this be for you to acclimate to? The Tyrant’s Daughter by J. C. Carleson is a moving and enlightening tale of a ...more
Jan 18, 2014 Nancy rated it it was amazing
An Aristocratic Mid-Eastern Teenager Caught Between the Past and Her Present in America

Fifteen-year-old Leila, her mother, and seven-year-old brother, Bastian, escape from their oil-rich Mideastern country when her father, the ruler, is assassinated by his brother, the General. In America, Leila is faced with a foreign world. The palace is replaced with a one-bedroom apartment. No body guards surround the family. Her brother adapts quickly to his new surroundings, but her mother plots to return
Beth Bonini
Oct 11, 2015 Beth Bonini rated it really liked it
This is a timely book for teenagers who are interested in politics -- more generally the political situation that is currently unfolding (unravelling?) all over the Middle East, but particularly in Syria. At the end of the book are two extremely interesting afterwords: one by the author, who explains what inspired the story; and one by Dr. Cheryl Benard, who discusses in both general and specific ways how politics is a very complicated human business.

The premise of the story is that 15 year-old
Mar 11, 2014 Ken rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, finished-in-2014
For a YA book, The Tyrant's Daughter offers young readers a unique angle -- the daughter of an assassinated Middle East despot is forced to flee with her remaining family to the U.S. where she must adopt to an American lifestyle while piecing together the Machiavellian plot that led to her father's murder. This is not your typical boy-meets-girl, boy-wins-girl YA formula by any means, and it gives the narrative a lift which keeps pages turning.

Author J.C. Carleson (pseudonym, I assume) is a form
It hurts me so much to give this one star! I can usually see something good in a book to give it at least a two-star rating but I just can't with this book. It makes me so sad. I was really hoping this would open my eyes and make me love it but that didn't happen. I really did not like this book.

The book starts right after her father's death (it's literally on the first page of the book so it's not a spoiler). I knew that it was going to start that way but I thought we would still get some back
Emily (Falling for YA)
Jan 04, 2015 Emily (Falling for YA) rated it really liked it
Laila’s father was the king of her Middle Eastern country. After his assignation in a coup by her Uncle, Laila, her mother, and younger brother are flown to America. Exiled from her home Laila has to navigate American high school, shifting loyalties, and must decide if she wants to return home.

Throughout the novel I was impressed with Laila’s character development. She goes from being a princess to living in an apartment. She handles all of theses changes with little whining or feeling sorry fo
Feb 12, 2014 Liviania rated it really liked it
Laila, her mother, and her younger brother are sharing a small apartment in America. They fled their home country following Laila's father's death in a coup. He was the leader of their country, the king (as Laila understood it). Now, they have to find a way to survive in a new country with few of their old connections.

I loved Laila's point of view. She's just at the right age to really start questioning her parents, and of course any normal teenage issues are compounded by the questions of just
Jan 28, 2014 Erin rated it really liked it
I was pre-approved for this title by the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you for the opportunity to read this book!

I haven't read any other books focusing on the specific subjects touched on in this book, so I wasn't sure what to expect going in to The Tyrant's Daughter. I ended up really enjoying the story and the characters. They were real to me in a way that a lot of other books' characters aren't. I really liked that while there is a huge disconnect between Laila's world and mine, and I haven
Feb 06, 2014 Kristine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Original review found at
4.5 Stars
* 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 bla
Jan 24, 2014 Maggie rated it really liked it
I don't know how many teens are going to pick this book up on their own, so teachers and librarians are going to have to be prepared to recommend this one. I feel it is an important book in that it addresses current events and political issues important for students to think about. Especially of value is the commentary written by Dr. Cheryl Benard, "Truth in Fiction". This is something most teens will not read unless interested in the topic so again, teachers and librarians need to be prepared t ...more
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
Got pre-approved for this one on NetGalley and it sounds pretty cool, so I will most likely be giving it a try!
Tara Chevrestt
Jan 30, 2015 Tara Chevrestt rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, kindle, netgalley
I thought this was a very engrossing read. I was absolutely hooked from page one. The heroine, though young (this is aimed at young adults), is a strong one. She has been through so much and continues to go through much as the book continues.

Many a young lady would have caved or given up, but this one tries to not only be strong but do the right thing.

Her father, a dictator in an unnamed Arab country, has been killed. Her uncle has taken over. Her mother has taken her and her brother to refuge i
“Perhaps I'll start calling myself The Invisible Queen. Sometimes just having a title helps.”

Riveting in a surreal yet sad way. The Tyrant’s Daughter is a unique Young Adult novel that provides a glimpse of how a teenage Muslim girl handles life’s twists and turns as she flees her war-ridden country to a complicated western world.

Laila, her mother and younger brother Bastian are exiled to the United States by the CIA after her war-ridden country, an undetermined Middle Eastern location, collaps
Mar 16, 2015 Bethany rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars

This review is based on an ARC received for free from NetGalley. I am not being paid to review this book and what I write here is my own opinion. Below is the scale I use in rating books.

An eye-opening and engaging look at what it is to be the daughter of a deposed dictator. Appropriate for high-low readers as well as regular readers.

full review
By the time she is sixteen Laila has been on the losing side of an insurrection that left her father dead and her little brother Bastien th
Crossposted at Booklikes.

Disclaimer: I was auto-approved for an ARC via Netgalley.

I do not know why I was auto approved for an ARC of this book. While I do, occasionally, read Young Adult work, there are far more proficient readers of YA and children books than me out there. Anyway, I’m glad I did get auto approved for this book.

To me, rightly or wrongly, young adult novels with a girl on the cover equal special snowflake torn between two boys, one of whom is jerk. This is not the case in thi
I enjoyed this one! It was unlike anything else I've read and I felt Carleson really captured how it would be for a young girl to be yanked from a sheltered life in the middle east to the suburbs of Washington D.C. The characters felt authentic as did the situation, and although it wasn't directly linked to the #weneeddiversebooks campaign, I DO feel like books telling stories like this are more necessary now than ever.

Definitely recommend.
Jan 22, 2014 PfromJ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4-1/2 Stars. This is so much more than the story of escaping from terrorism and assimilating in the US. Identity, loyalty, tradition. Choosing to act vs deciding to ignore. The Tyrant’s Daughter is a timely, important story that should be covered in every high school World History/Current Events class. (Don’t overlook the closing essay by Dr. Cheryl Benard, which puts our relationship with politics into fascinating perspective.) We need more YA books like this.
Jan 08, 2016 Peaches rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
I read this book for faculty book club and the writing style was definitely compelling and refreshing in comparison to some other dense choices. The plot flows so well that I finished it easily. I enjoy YA literature, but always dislike when the author attempts to write in the "average teenager" POV, often resulting in the protagonist being a vacuous shell for readers to insert their own personality traits (ala Bella Swan). Laila is critical, cautious, and not from an "average" background as a f ...more
Apr 28, 2014 Ionia rated it liked it
This was an interesting book, but not one that I would have ever thought of as intended for a younger than adult audience if I hadn't read the blurb first. The portions of this book that deal with teen angst and the struggle to find a place to fit in were definitely age appropriate, but I'm not sure how much the average teen would get out of the rest of it.

The narrator's voice in this book is very strong. Laila is a character that breaks down the walls surrounding her life and lets the reader i
Jun 28, 2014 Michelle rated it really liked it
After 20 years as a children's and teens' librarian, I do sometimes feel a bit jaded that there are no original plots left to write about. So I get quite excited when I read a well written, genuinely unpredictable teen novel.

Laila, her mother and younger brother are living in an apartment in the US, having been spirited away from their middle eastern homeland after a coup. For Laila there are lots of adjustments to be made - while she speaks English, the cultural customs of an American high sch
Apr 12, 2014 Barb rated it really liked it
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book but I was pleasantly surprised. It is a very good book. The premise is that a dictator of a middle-eastern country has been assassinated during a revolt. His wife, 15 year old daughter (Laila), and seven year old son (Bastien) are brought to the United States for safety. The story is told through the eyes of Laila and her struggle to adjust to American culture and public high school. The mother’s behavior seems strange but considering what she has gone ...more
Feb 04, 2014 Francesca rated it it was amazing
I finished this book and then I sat there, staring at my ipad for a while. All my friends were near by, playing video games, discussing housing, and I was sitting there in my bubble of silence. This book is fiction, but the message it carries is very true.

This book was so well written and the character was so well portrayed by the author that I would call this a masterpiece. It is not about any one country or anyone person, but it is told by the perspective of a teenage girl in High School. She
Brenda Dixon
Jan 15, 2016 Brenda Dixon rated it really liked it
Good reads review
Hi, my name is Brenda Dixon, I am 15 years old and I read the novel The Tyrant’s Daughter written by J.C. Carleson. I usually do not like reading and I am usually forced to read a book for school and it’s not enjoyable so I do not read that often. When I went to go read the book I thought it was going to be like all of the other books I have read, boring, and getting lost on the plot half way through the book.
In the novel it discusses a young girl named Laila that moves to Ameri
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Mrs. Eriksson's S...: The Tyrant's Daughter 1 3 Jul 28, 2014 07:50AM  
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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
More about J.C. Carleson...

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“Perhaps I'll start calling myself The Invisible Queen. Sometimes just having a title helps.” 3 likes
“Around the lunch table everyone seems to have given something up---dairy, meat, gluten, sugar, carbs. Only in a land of plenty could people voluntarily go without so much.” 2 likes
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