From a former CIA officer comes the riveting account of a royal Middle Eastern family exiled to the American suburbs.
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?
J.C. Carleson delivers a fascinating account of a girl—and a country—on the brink, and a rare glimpse at the personal side of international politics.
*Bonus Backmatter includes a note about the author's CIA past, and a commentary by RAND researcher and president of ARCH International, Dr. Cheryl Benard. Recommendations for further reading are also included.
I happened upon this when I saw it included in a Stacking The Shelves post a few weeks ago. It’s different from my regular fare and I was grateful for the change of pace it provided.
Layla’s experience as a newly arrived exile is described so eloquently. There were even moments where I could easily relate to her cultural shock moments. But Layla’s perspective on life in general is eye-opening. The differences she encounters don’t necessarily scare her or deter her. She even allows herself to enjoy aspects of her new life though there may be constant clashes between the old and new that confound her. But what is truly earth-shattering for her is learning that the whole world sees her overthrown murdered father as a dictator which is a very bitter lesson for her to swallow. This even causes her to reassess her life and family as she has known it up to now, especially her mother. What we have here is not just a displaced teenage girl who has lost her father and her country but also a girl having to grow up too fast and be schooled in politics.
Seeing typical American experiences from the mundane like that of grocery shopping to the milestone high school dance through Layla’s eyes, will offer a fresh new perspective to the reader. Even the concept of having friends and “hanging out” is something new to her.
I say read this. It’s one of the best books I’ve come across this year. It’s an absorbing story that grabs you and will also enhance your own view of typical every day life.