February 10, 2014

The Tyrant’s Daughter by J. C. Carleson

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:59 am by suebe2

The Tyrant’s Daughter:  
A Novel
by J. C. Carleson
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Sure, Laila was a girl in a Muslim country, but she never thought of her life as restricted.  After all, she lived like royalty.  Before she came here and read the newspapers, she thought her father was actually King just like his father before him.  It wasn’t until her father was killed in a coup and her uncle came to power that she began to question things.

The first question — do I want to go home?  The answer isn’t an easy one.

She had never had much freedom of movement but she hadn’t always been afraid, but that was before her driver was fired for swerving around the bundle of rags in the street that turned out to be a man.  That was before the gunfire became constant.  It was before a man her father trusted shot him dead.

Now, Laila has friends.  Granted, she doesn’t have many but she has a few which is more than she would have had at home.  First is Emmy, the girl assigned to help her adjust to her new school.  How can a girl be comfortable walking around in so little clothing?

Then there is Ian, the boy she kisses when he is teaching her to drive.  She has more in common with this missionarie’s son than she first thought but she would never have been allowed to know him at home.

And last, if you can even call him a friend is Amir.  She’s not even sure she considers him a friend.  At home, his family would be considered course and common.  They are often fighting against her own family but now that her uncle has had her father killed alliances are shifting.

It is through these friends that she comes to see her father for the tyrant he was to the rest of the world, she learned what he allowed to happen to people like Amir, and what is still going on, but through her mother’s manipulations she also learns that women are not as defenseless as they may seem and, given the right motivation, Laila herself can take charge of more than a little.

I have to admit that as I read this book, I kept waiting for some detail to tell me where in the Muslim world it takes place.  In the author’s note, Carleson explains why she didn’t name a specific country.  As a former CIA operative, Carleson writes this book from experience and first hand knowledge.  She also gives us a lot to think about in terms of how we percieve reality, both here and abroad, how we choose our allies and just who is really in power.

It is a definitely a thought provoking book that will lead to a great deal of discussion for those who are willing to take the time to get to know this girl who, through the course of the book, is also getting to know herself and what she is capable of doing.



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