Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Tyrant's Daughter

This book was given to me free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion. The opinions expressed are my own.

Over the past decade it hasn't been difficult to find news regarding the Middle East. Every news station has their opinion, every paper has an angle, every webcast has the latest tales to share in the quest for readers.
What is rarely considered is the lives of those being affected,especially for those caught on the sides we may villianize in broad strokes.
This is what makes Carleson's book so compelling and why I found myself up in the wee hours unable to put it down. 

Carleson introduces readers to 15 year old Laila, a young woman who's world has literally exploded. Following the death of her father, her surviving family consisting of 6 year old brother and mother are whisked away to the relative safety of the US, but not everything is as it seems.

Instead of the relative peace Laila hoped for as an exiled family, Laila finds herself confronted with the world's image of her father's reign, and their truth is a far different person than the man she remembers as her old life steadily invades the new.

At first glance, The Tyrant's Daughter is not the sort of book I would normally pick up off the shelf. I like stories, characters, interweaving narratives. I don't like politics. I am so happy this book landed in my inbox though because although politics, world events, and government intrigue have their say. At its heart, this novel is about a young girl trying to make sense of her rapidly shifting world and the relationships she builds and navigates during a time of painful and chaotic transition.

Laila's character is beautifully written and rightly remains the center star of her story. The contrast of her old life represented by her mother and Amir vs. the newness of her American life summed up in Emmy and Ian provide a healthy tension while Bastien counterbalances with his youthful innocence, in many ways representing the girl Laila would have been herself.

I think the most haunting strength of this novel is Carleson's ability to take the families of the those leaders we see on the television and make them human. To read Laila's story, though fictional, is to put a human face on a conflict we too often view as a disconnected narrative of it's own through our screens and media. Carleson humanizes, on both sides,the conflicts which have shaped the world stage in this century. 

Final rating, 4.5 stars out of 5

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