My first order of YA books just made it to the shelves today (minus the extra copy of The Fault in Our Stars that immediately went to the hold shelf – seriously, I've been in this job for almost two months and I've never seen either of the other two copies) so, in honor of that, my first post on this blog will be a review of one of those new books.
The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson
I received a digital ARC of The Tyrant’s Daughter via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
“My brother is the King of Nowhere”
This is how Laila begins her story – the story of a girl who grew up the daughter of a king of a country and, following her father’s death, finds herself in America with her mother and brother, where her family’s former position is seen in a different light. American high school is a strange place that seems worlds away from Laila’s highly censored and sheltered past, and it seems that in addition to dealing with these differences, Laila must also look out for her mother (who is constantly seeking ways to restore their family to their former position) and her brother (who is too young to quite understand their situation).
Laila narrates her own story, which prevents the author from getting bogged down by trying to tell everything. Instead, the reader is shown only what Laila sees, thinks, feels, and assumes. It also gives the unique perspective that makes readers re-evaluate how they see the world.
A lot of what we read or hear on the news regarding the Middle East is negative, and people have a tendency to apply these negatives to the people of a country as a whole rather than to individuals. This book does a wonderful job of illustrating that blanket statements about a culture are rarely, if ever, true – but it goes beyond that and points out that, in spite of the way her father ruled the country, some did not see him as the villain the rest of the world saw. Laila is a character that people can relate to, regardless of the differences between the culture she grew up in and the one we live in, and because of that, readers are forced to accept that her father – a horrible dictator from our perspective – might not be 100% pure evil the way we like to imagine dictators. It’s important to have literature that points out that people are more complex than we tend to think.