cover image The Tyrant’s Daughter

The Tyrant’s Daughter

J. C. Carleson. Knopf, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-449-80997-6

Filled with political intrigue and emotional tension, Carleson’s riveting novel features a teenage refugee caught in a web of deceit and conspiracy. Fifteen-year-old Laila grew up believing she was a princess and that her younger brother, Bastien, was heir to the throne. After her father’s assassination, however, when her family flees to the United States, she learns that the world views her father as a cruel dictator (“ ‘Repressive regime,’ that damning alliteration, chases him throughout the newspapers like a dog nipping at his heels”). Carleson dramatically illustrates Laila’s culture shock in a suburb of Washington, D. C., not knowing whether she can trust her friendly American classmates or if she should befriend fellow refugees resentful of her father’s power. She is even unsure about her own mother, whose secret telephone conversations and sporadic financial windfalls make Laila suspicious. The heroine’s homeland is never named, but readers will find it easy to draw parallels to current events. Raising as many questions as answers about Laila’s fate, the novel challenges social values close to home and abroad. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jessica Regel, Foundry Literary + Media. (Feb.)