Inside the family of a Tyrant

The Tyrant's Daughter

The Tyrant’s Daughter (Knopf Books for Young Readers) by J.C. Carleson $17.99


Former CIA officer, J.C. Carleson, brings readers a compelling novel of a royal Middle Eastern family exiled to the American suburbs. Through the voice of 15-year-old Laila whose father was killed in a coup, readers are drawn into the tumultuous existence of a teen growing up among dictators and possible kings. Her story is one of fear and hope, love of country and dawning recognition that all is not as it seems. Laila has been forced to flee the war-torn middle east lives with her mother and lives within the harsh reality of exile and anonymity in the U.S. As Laila adjusts to her new life, she experiences new opportunity and friendships but her mother is focused on the past and concentrates all of her efforts to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can’t stand aside helplessly while an international crisis develops around her, so she tries to find a way to stop the conflict that spans generations.   This fascinating account of a girl—and a country—on the brink, and a rare glimpse at the personal side of international politics is a novel that opens readers eyes. They will see inside the family of a dictator when a veil is lifted and a young adult, who has perceived her father as her hero and who protected her from the harsh realities of his rule, recognizes that life for others in her country was filled with violence and repression.

Kirkus called this novel, “Smart, relevant, required reading.” This beautifully written novel will surely draw questions and observations from adolescents who have, until now, only seen the lives of a dictator’s family through media reports because, through Laila’s eyes, they will gain insight into the power of friendship and loyalty that allows an adolescent to express love for a country despite its shortcomings.


J. C. CARLESON is a former undercover CIA officer who has navigated war zones, jumped out of airplanes, and worked on the frontlines of international conflicts. She now lives and writes in Virginia with her husband and two young sons. Her previous publications include the novel Cloaks and Veils, and Work Like a Spy: Business Tips from a Former CIA Officer

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