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 conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can’t bear to stand still as an international crisis takes shape around her, but how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations?
I had to flip a coin to see if I would read this book, but I regret not reading it sooner.
Let’s start with Laila. I felt that Carleson did a great job of portraying Laila. THE TYRANT’S DAUGHTER is fairly slow to start, the pacing going along gently, a sort of sleepy feel to it. Surprisingly, it didn’t really bother me. Laila’s voice was engaging and quickly swept me away into her world even when I was bored with the lack of activity. As pages came and went, I began to appreciate and love Laila even more. Her realtionships with Emmy, her mother, Ian, Amir, her brother and many of the other characters were highlighted by humor, new experiences, fear, loss, hate and triumph.
The evolution of these relationships was realistic and I could see Laila growing as a character with every new event. The things she learns about and goes through/went through displays her extreme loyalty and very nature itself in a beautiful way. I was very impressed with the way Carleson wrote these scenes and the way she set up the plot. Carleson does an amazing job of showing how Laila’s war-torn home affects her even as she’s in America, even she’s fitting in and doing well. This story and plot is very character-centered and I enjoyed seeing the ways Carleson showed me every aspect of the characters she created, each one being easily distinguishable.
Laila is real and true in THE TYRANT’S DAUGHTER, and utterly perfect for the role she played.
“Their perspective is not mine, and my reality is not theirs. But somewhere between our differences is a shared space where we are friends.” — Laila
The writing was great for THE TYRANT’S DAUGHTER. I liked the way Carleson portrayed the political danger and the struggles of Laila’s family, the turmoil that they go through and how old habits die hard–or sometimes don’t die at all. This was really well shown when and after Laila’s mother starts drinking.
I did have a few problems with this book, many of them pertaining to the ending. I just didn’t feel that things were tied up as well as they should have been. I wanted to know what happens farther with Amir? Did Laila really just leave her relationship with Ian like that? What about Emmy? What ends up happening to her brother? What about all the things she did in America? I understand that these experiences were meant to symbolize a lot of different things, such as Laila’s realization that her world and the world she lives in for most of THE TYRANT’S DAUGHTER will never fully intersect. But I had a lot of questions at the end of this novel that I really wanted answered, mostly because I liked this book so much.
Overall, this is a great read that is definitely worth a look at. Don’t wait to hear about it from your friends or flip a coin like I did. There’s a lot of insight that goes into this story, and I’m really glad to have read it. 4.3 stars.
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