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Download The Tyrant's Daughter Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Tyrants Daughter, by J. C. Carleson Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: J. C. Carleson Narrator: J. C. Carleson, Meera Simhan, Cheryl Benard Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From a former CIA officer comes a riveting account of a royal Middle Eastern family exiled to the American suburbs

There: In an unnamed country, fifteen-year-old Laila has always lived like royalty. Her father is a dictator of sorts, though she knows him as king—just as his father was, and just as her little brother Bastien will be one day. Then everything changes: Laila’s father is killed in a coup.

Here: As war surges, Laila flees to a life of exile in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Overnight she becomes a nobody. Even as she adjusts to a new school and new friends, she is haunted by the past. Was her father really a dictator like the American newspapers say? What was the cost of her family’s privilege?

Far from feeling guilty, her mother is engineering a power play—conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to gain a foothold to the throne. Laila can’t bear to stand still as yet another international crisis takes shape around her. But how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations?

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Quotes & Awards

  • The Boston Globe, June 21, 2014:
    "Carleson, a former undercover CIA officer, infuses her story with compelling details and gripping authenticity."
  • This story is important on so many levels. It invites readers to contemplate paradox and contradictions in ways that few books do: how a friend’s loyalty trumps her annoying habits; how you can love your country and still be honest about its shortcomings; how betrayal might be justifiable. But mostly it’s a touching, suspenseful story about two children who don’t belong anywhere. Every American should read this book. It’s an eye-opener. Suzanne Fisher Staples, Newbery Honor-winning author of Shabanu
  • It's a story both foreign and familiar, global and intimate. A tense chess game where you'll think you know the final moves only to learn you've been outsmarted. Dana Reinhardt, award-winning author of The Things a Brother Knows
  • Mashable, June 17, 2014:
  • This compelling look at someone fighting desperately against a truth she'd rather not believe challenges you to think deeper."
  • Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, November 18, 2013:
  • Filled with political intrigue and emotional tension, Carleson’s riveting novel features a teenage refugee caught in a web of deceit and conspiracy."
  • Starred Review, Kirkus, December 15, 2013:
  • “When her Middle Eastern dictator father was killed in a coup, Laila, her mother, and her younger brother flee the country. Now a teenager, Laila must adapt to life in the US as her family tries to recover from its loss of power…Narrator Simhan turns in a solid performance in this audio edition. She provides Laila an appropriate Middle-Eastern accent and her tone reflects that of a teenager acclimating to a new culture. But Simhan shines brightest during the book’s moments of tension, generating a subtle range of emotions. Add in a fine performance from Benard, and the result is an audio edition that makes for compelling listening.”

    Publishers Weekly, audio review

  • Laila is a complex and layered character whose nuanced observations will help readers better understand the divide between American and Middle Eastern cultures. Smart, relevant, required reading.”
  • BookPage, February 2014:
    "As a former undercover CIA agent, debut author J.C. Carleson has a firm grasp on the world of espionage and power plays. She is able to take her intimate knowledge of this secretive world, an often-avoided gray area of morality, and craft an amazingly gripping and honest tale. Carleson keeps her readers feeling as though they have just returned from traveling in a foreign land, making those faraway issues feel a little more personal—a feat few can achieve with words alone."
  • Booklist, February 1, 2014:
    "This is more than just Laila’s story; rather, it is a story of context, beautifully written (by a former undercover CIA agent), and stirring in its questions and eloquent observations about our society and that of the Middle East."
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February 2014:
  • Timely, relevant, and fascinating, Laila’s story offers readers an accessible understanding of the seemingly intractable nature of Middle East politics. An equally fascinating additional note by Dr. Cheryl Benard offers more real-world context for Laila’s fictional but very credible position. Resources for further research are included."
  • “What’s it like to be caught between cultures? The author, a former CIA agent, knows. So will listeners after hearing Meera Simhan’s portrayal of fifteen-year-old Laila, who immigrates to the US from an unnamed Middle Eastern country after her father is murdered in a coup. Simhan reads with lightly accented precision, balancing Laila’s conflicting emotions at being ‘a girl divided’…This audio production includes an author’s note and a commentary by Cheryl Benard, a researcher dedicated to social activism.”


  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, February 2014
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books, Best Teen book of 2014
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