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The Tyrant's Daughter

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  3,383 ratings  ·  821 reviews
The 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 c
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Angelica J.C. Carleson's whole point of not telling you where they are from stems from the fact that this book represents a universal problem in multiple areas…moreJ.C. Carleson's whole point of not telling you where they are from stems from the fact that this book represents a universal problem in multiple areas of the world. To simply focus on one country would devalue all the "big stories" in the different countries that went to similar trivial situations. Instead of where they are from, focus on what they each represent. Or just read the Authors Notes. J.C. Carleson tells us her reasonings.(less)
Brady Fish No. The author could potentially make a sequel to this novel but nothing has been announced.
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  3,383 ratings  ·  821 reviews

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Ash Wednesday
Jan 13, 2014 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 AR
Amy | Foxy Blogs
**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 par
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
Jan 22, 2014 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
Christine PNW
Feb 08, 2014 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 limi
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
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review is my best one so far for sure. read it!
HOLY CRAP! I'm crying. That was amazing. This is definitely in the running for the best book of 2017. Review to come ASAP. EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK REGARDLESS OF POLITICAL REVIEW. THIS BOOK CHANGED MY LIFE PERSPECTIVE.
Jan 18, 2014 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
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
Beth Bonini
Oct 11, 2015 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
Feb 12, 2014 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
C.G. Drews
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
I’ve been having such a slew of 2-3-star reads that THE TYRANT’S DAUGHTER was awesomely refreshing and brilliant! Finally! A book that tugs my feels.

It’s not a true story, but it’s based of reality – and I really love that! I love to learn, peoples. No joke, it makes my mind happy to be absorbing something useful. So while I’m not learning hard facts here, it’s all very close to accurate things that HAVE happened and ARE happening (the author’s note in the back explains that). It’s not set
Mar 07, 2014 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
Emily Donnellan
Jan 13, 2014 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
Brigid ✩
Got pre-approved for this one on NetGalley and it sounds pretty cool, so I will most likely be giving it a try!
Cecilia London
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Solid YA read. At times lyrical writing.
Julie Kee
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was so good and interesting and surprising. It did not end like I thought it would and it really shocked me. I loved all the characters, especially Emmy, and I thought the relationships between Laila and her mother, and Laila and her father were very well developed throughout the book. I felt the ending could have wrapped her story up a little more, but I'm satisfied with guessing for myself. I loved this book and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys character- driven stories and intere ...more
Jul 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
This story starts out a little implausible and builds to a really interesting coming-of-age/socio-political commentary with a very intriguing ending. Quite clever.
Jan 14, 2014 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
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Huge thank you to the publisher for letting me read an advanced copy of this book. Writing this honest review to say thank you

4.5 stars

Wow this book was good. I wasn't totally sure what to expect when I went into it, but I'm so glad that I read it. Sadly, I'm not really that up-to-date with everything that is going on in the middle east (I blame living in Japan, but it's mostly my own apathy towards keeping up to date with world news), but that didn't hinder my enjoyment of this book. I especial
Jan 13, 2014 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 bl
Tara Chevrestt
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, ya, 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
Jan 24, 2014 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
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
There were parts of this book I felt were so relevant and true, it should be read in schools. Others were a little more typical YA fiction, but that's okay, too. In any case, it was enjoyable, and thought-provoking, and thereby I can only recommend it.
The premise of the story deals with a teenage girl being uprooted from an unnamed Middle Eastern country to Washington DC. Her father was a dictator/tyrant, as the title suggests, and after his ousting, her family is forced into exile.
The story sou
Jan 14, 2014 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
Jan 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
4 stars! I've had this in my e-book TBR pile for too long and decided to read it as one of my goals for 2015 is to pare those down. I'm very glad I read this and can say that I'm sorry I didn't read it sooner. Over the summer, my husband roped me in to watch the show Tyrant with him and that was somewhere in my mind when I decided I'd read this. Laila was an interesting character and I enjoyed her narration. I found myself bristling with her sometimes but then I'd remember all she'd been through ...more
Jan 15, 2016 rated it did not like it
To call this book "problematic" would be over-simplifying matters. Beginning with protagonist Laila's nameless country of origin, the unnamed place implied to be in the Middle East is exoticized and sensationalized. Laila mentions being forced to wear a veil (never once referred to as a hijab), but immediately classifies the young girls around her as whores for the way they dress. Bomb threats at school are glorified and celebrated. The characters being flat and plot having major holes are in fa ...more
Aneta Bak
Jan 14, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: arc, dnf, netgalley
Unfortunately this book wasn't for me, I didn't get very far into it but I had to stop because I knew I couldn't keep reading it.

First of all I didn't like how it started, I felt like we should have had more background information, not just be thrown into the middle of the story. It was bothering me and that was starting from page one.

The second reason I didn't read this book was because I just didn't like the main character. I couldn't relate to her at all, and I just didn't like what she did a
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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

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“Perhaps I'll start calling myself The Invisible Queen. Sometimes just having a title helps.” 7 likes
“What kind of person doesn't know whether her father was a king or a monster?” 2 likes
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