Category/genre: Contemporary/Young Adult
My star rating: 5/5
Scheduled release date: February 11th
**I received a complimentary advanced readers copy from Knopf Books/Random House via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
Goodreads blub: 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.
THE RAVE WORTHY: Every once in a while you come across a book that slaps everything into perspective. This book was one of those books. As Americans, so many of us are so blissfully unaware of how good we have it, and we also seem to push away the realization that so many of the countries that we are in conflict with (as well as many that we aren't) have so much less than we do. Carleson forces us to confront this and so much more through the eyes of a 15-year old girl from the middle east. I was instantly interested in Laila's story, and empathizing with her was effortless. How can you not feel badly for a girl in the middle of a culture shock crisis that is also having to deal with the shattering reality of the truths in her family's filthy closet? She is planted right in the middle of the all too familiar war of American vs. middle eastern ideals and her struggle to recover and relate was gripping. The writing is simple but powerful; I truly felt as if I could have been reading the pages of a very mature teenage girl's diary. I don't generally get into contemporary fiction, but I am glad that I made an exception for this one.
THE GRUMBLE WORTHY: It's hardly worth a mention, but I did feel that Laila seemed a bit older than 15. This could easily be explained by her experiences and the higher expectation of behavior of young girls from her culture, I'm just afraid that first world young adults might not catch this.
WHAT WILL STICK WITH ME: I am not a political person. I know my stances on key debate issues, but as far as the specifics of foreign policy and interaction I am grossly undereducated. Carleson has made me want to remedy this and I whole-heartedly believe that the majority of people that read this book will have the same reaction. This could be a game changer.