Kate's Reviews > The Tyrant's Daughter

The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson
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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 problems. I adore those kinds of books, I really do. But then there are the books that challenge who I am and what I know, the books that make me examine my way of thinking so that I think harder, better. It’s books like that that are the reason I love reading. The Tyrant’s Daughter falls into that category. Through its story of guilt, complicity, and responsibility for one’s actions as a family in exile adjusts to life in the United States, it encouraged me to reexamine my view of the world as the characters did the same.

In The Tyrant’s Daughter, Laila, along with her mother and brother, escape to the U.S. after her father’s assassination. It’s here that Laila learns her father is regarded as a dictator, causing her to question her memories of him as well as her role in the family’s regime. Meanwhile, she has to deal with the shock of transitioning to an entirely new culture along with her mother’s morally ambiguous attempts to restore her family to their previous status. Though very few people would be able to fully sympathize with Laila’s struggles, Carleson skillfully weaves in more universal themes, such as belonging and identity, which would fit with any coming-of-age novel. Laila was a very believable character, at times haughty, but also afraid and uncertain of herself.

This book is a valuable look at the lives affected by international affairs beyond the names we hear in the news. Carleson’s background as a former CIA officer adds an urgency to the storyline as well. I might have given this book five stars had it not been for the ending: it seemed rushed and many of the story arcs felt abandoned. Overall, though, I highly recommend this book as well as the bonus materials: the author’s note and Dr. Benard’s commentary are both worth a look.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to brush up on my world politics knowledge.

*This ARC was provided by Random House. Thank you!
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Reading Progress

January 4, 2014 – Started Reading
January 4, 2014 – Shelved
January 5, 2014 – Finished Reading

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