I thought this was a very engrossing read. I was absolutely hooked from page one. The heroine, though young (this is aimed at young adults), is a strong one. She has been through so much and continues to go through much as the book continues.
Many a young lady would have caved or given up, but this one tries to not only be strong but do the right thing.
Her father, a dictator in an unnamed Arab country, has been killed. Her uncle has taken over. Her mother has taken her and her brother to refuge in America...but in exchange she must work with a possibly shady CIA agent. While her country is torn apart and her home life not much better, Laila also must deal with a new country, new rules, new school, new friends. As we follow Laila, we see American high school in a new light. People making light of bomb threats. People blissfully ignorant of war across the world, of real bombs, of loss.
And then she gets drawn into drama involving her country that she doesn't want to be involved in...just as she gets to enjoying the freedoms American life provides a young woman...sorta. See, she's always torn, and we witness this many times through how she feel at a dance, for example. She discovers the power her body can have, yet at the same time she feels self conscious showing a bit of leg.
Laila must do what she feels is right, even if it means hurting her family or walking away from friends and though in the end I hated her decision, I admired that she had the guts to do it. She made up her mind and followed through, stuck to it.
The author notes are very enlightening. If you didn't know much about Arab Spring before, you'll understand much better after reading this novel. Something else I liked was how this book showed us that...even the most unlikable of people, such as dictators, are capable of loving their children and being loved in return. And yes, we can still love our parents and yet hate who they are to others.
I highly recommend this. I am merely unsatisfied with the ending though. It was too unconcluded for me and the conclusion I felt I was possibly reading didn't seem right.
I received this via Netgalley.