Recieved from Netgalley for an unbiased review.
I'm not sure what to say about this book, it was fantastic and well written, but the ending didn't really sit well with me..
Laila is a 15 year old princess. Or she was. Her father was killed in a military coup by her religious and fanatical uncle. Her mother makes a deal with the American CIA, and they are swept to American soil where Laila, her six year old brother Bastian must fit in. During the course of several months we see, through Laila's eyes, the family both breaking apart and the attempts to assimilate into American culture. The West offers things that Laila's country cannot such as mingling with the opposite sex, dressing less modestly, and a freedom to do and act as she wants. Laila learns about a culture shes always wanted, and revisits memories of a world that tried to expunge these desires from the female populace. Will Laila fit in? And if she does, will she ever wish to return home?
Although Laila is considered a kind and honest individual through out the book, you see various selfish and cruel behaviours on her part. Her treatment of her friends, the lack of care for her American boyfriend, and the betrayal she wroughts against multiple members of her family sickened me. She acts as though she is completely innocent, an "Invisible Queen" who wishes to have attention through sneaky actions and killing those she dislikes. I thank God I know many Muslims because this book does not accurately depict a young Muslim, or a young woman.
"I am my mother's daughter. I am my fathers daughter. And I have learned from their mistakes."
Although she has seen much death, war and destruction these words are chilling. She wishes to continue the reign of tyranny? She wishes to ignore the freedom she has experienced from the Americans? Does this mean that if she is ever to return to her home country, she will deal death with more precision than her fore bearers? Will she kill both those who oppose her, and their families? What does this mean for Bastien, if he ever becomes king? Will she assassinate him? In the end, I found Laila to be someone I did not like or trust. I had developed high hopes for the woman she could have been, and was let down by Laila's decisions. For that, i give this book two stars.I will however, keep a look out for more YA from Carleson.
This being said, the portion of the book in the afterword about Carleson's own experiences with corrupt governments and her friend's death while running for the PPP (Pakistan Party), was fascinating and more than made up for my disillusionment with Laila's character. I would love to learn more about Carleson's experiences with international politics.