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Parents' Guide to

The Tyrant's Daughter

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Poignant tale of a fictional dictator's teen daughter.

The Tyrant's Daughter Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

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Is It Any Good?

Our review:
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Kids say (2 ):

This engaging book is equal parts international politics lesson, coming-of-age story, and classic immigrant "fish out of water" tale. A former CIA agent, J.C. Carleson was inspired to write a book after wandering around in awe at the elaborately opulent children's quarters in Saddam Hussein's palaces. Making Laila, her family, and her home country a composite of various oppressive dictatorships lets Carleson conflate facts from several countries; she never shies away from noting that the United States sometimes backs these regimes as it suits its international policies.

Despite her initial ignorance of her father's bloody legacy, Laila is a believable, likable character. She's scandalized by how little even her "goody goody" new friends wear, but eventually she tries wearing a little satin dress for a dance. At first she keeps flinching and moving every time a guy comes near her, but as she tries on her American skin, she decides to see what it feels like to touch, kiss, and giggle -- all strictly forbidden in her homeland -- with a boy she likes. She never forgets that there's much more going on with her mother, the CIA, and her homeland than she'll ever understand, but she's no longer content to be a clueless princess. Laila comes into her own in a story with so much substance you'll want to look up every resource in the author's note to learn more about real tyrants and the families and nations they left behind.

Book Details

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