by J. C Carleson

Reviewer Rating:


An excellent portrayal of the culture clash between the Middle East and middle-class America.  Carlson uses real-life experiences from her own time in Iraq and from recent violence in Syria to craft the story of Laila, who is seeking asylum in the United States after her father, a violent Middle Eastern dictator, was assassinated.

Laila's adjustments to life in an American suburb offer jarring comparisons to the tumultuous life she has previously known.  The ordinary experiences of attending school, making friends, and going to dances do not mesh with her conservative culture or her previous interaction with brutality.  Add to this the suspicion Laila has that her own mother is working with the rebel faction that assassinated her father to regain a powerful position in the country, and that the CIA has taken an interest in Laila and her family's circumstances.

This grim, sparse novel is straightforward in its depiction of the turmoil in the Middle East and its stark contrast to American life.  Highly recommended for all high schoolers.

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