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Radar Recommendations: The Girl in the Box by Ouida Sebestyen

August 28th, 2007 (11:49 pm)

Current Mood: sleepy
Current Song: Those You've Known from Spring Awakening

The Girl in the Box is Jackie, a teenager whose life changes the instant she is kidnapped. Locked in a basement-like room without any exit, without any light, Jackie inventories what she does have: one jar of water, a little bit of food, paper, and a typewriter. That is all.

She begins to type up letters. Some letters are to her friends. Some are to her family members. Others are to herself. She describes the kidnapping, although she doesn't know who took her or why such a thing happened. She details her surroundings. She wonders why she's there, and when and if she will go home. She remembers memories, both fond and painful.

This book makes me simultaneously cherish my freedom and miss my typewriter. I found this book in the library as a child and checked it out repeatedly. I had a typewriter at the time. No, I never attempted to recreate her story as either a writer's exercise or an actor's exercise, but I did love writing on that typewriter. Currently, I am working on a character who is victimized, and although her situation and circumstances are quite different from Jackie's, the timing of this post is still quite eerie. I made my selections for the Radar Recommendations project months ago and could not have known then that these two characters would be meeting in my mind today as I considered them in turn.

The fact that this book is now out-of-print makes me quite sad for multiple reasons, including my wish for another generation to discover it, this generation that is eating up heavy teen fiction, and because I'd love to actually own a copy.

I really want to read it again, and read it outside rather than inside. I feel as though that location change would make for an entirely different experience - to just be sitting where this character is not, cannot, would not be - In fact, I think it would almost make me feel guilty to be taking in the sky and sun and grass and trees as I turned the pages.

Perhaps The Girl in the Box by Ouida Sebestyen is still circulating in your library. Please go check out and tell me what you think.


This is the second post in a series of Recommendations Under the Radar (or Radar Recommendations). RR is a project involving a multitude of literature blogs, as headed up by Colleen of Chasing Ray. The aim of this project is to encourage readers to pick up books which may have escaped their attention until now. Different blogs will be recommending different books all week long. Here's my schedule.

Tuesday Round-Up
A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy: The works of Ellen Emerson White
Big A, little a: Ingo by Helen Dunmore
Jen Robinson's Book Page: The Changeling and The Velvet Room by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (I too love Snyder's books and am so happy to see Jen posting about them all week long!)
Bildungsroman: The Girl in the Box by Ouida Sebestyen
Finding Wonderland: A Door Near Here by Heather Quarles
Miss Erin: Girl With a Pen and Princess of Orange by Elisabeth Kyle
Fuse #8: The Winged Girl of Knossos</em> by Erick Berry
Bookshelves of Doom: The Olivia Kidney series by Ellen Potter
Chicken Spaghetti: The Natural History of Uncas Metcalfe by Betsey Osborne
Writing and Ruminating: Jazz ABX=Z by Wynton Marsalis
The YA YA YAs: Massive by Julia Bell


Posted by: Trouble (literaticat)
Posted at: August 29th, 2007 08:32 am (UTC)


I just remember she had to "touch type" - I used to practice typing with my eyes shut all the time.

In fact -- I just typed this whole entry with my eyes shut.

How'd I do?

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: August 29th, 2007 12:59 pm (UTC)

To quote some of my favorite customers:

You are ten kinds of awesome.

(Or: Ya done good, kid!)

:) :)

Posted by: awekward (awekward)
Posted at: August 29th, 2007 12:38 pm (UTC)

I was just thinking about that book a couple weeks ago! I read it in high school, but didn't think anyone on the planet had ever heard of it.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: August 29th, 2007 12:53 pm (UTC)

Hello there! You are not alone.

Posted by: aprilhenry (aprilhenry)
Posted at: August 29th, 2007 12:51 pm (UTC)

Hey, I just ordered an exlibrary hardcover copy from Half.com - do you want it after kid and I finish it? Or you could own your own copy by going over there. Pristine will cost, but my ex-library was seventy-five cents.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: August 29th, 2007 02:36 pm (UTC)

Hi April! I may take you up on that. :) I have never purchased any books via online auction sites, so the thought hadn't occurred to me.

Posted by: aprilhenry (aprilhenry)
Posted at: August 29th, 2007 03:05 pm (UTC)

Half isn't an auction - it's just a flat price with a description. I buy a lot of out of print books that way.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: August 29th, 2007 03:09 pm (UTC)

Better still! Remind me to check that out. Thank you so much!

Posted by: Rebecca (rebeccael)
Posted at: August 30th, 2007 01:44 am (UTC)

Amazon.com has got 45 used copies as well.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: August 30th, 2007 08:02 am (UTC)


Posted by: My characters kick your ass dot com (elfstar18)
Posted at: August 29th, 2007 01:05 pm (UTC)

I had a copy of that when I was a teenager (with the exact cover that you show), but it's gone now. I've been slowly rebuilding my childhood library with the help of the thrift store. I hope I run accross it some day.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: August 29th, 2007 02:34 pm (UTC)

I hope it will appear at just the right moment.

Posted by: mimagirl (mimagirl)
Posted at: August 29th, 2007 07:01 pm (UTC)

This sounds sooo intriguing.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: August 29th, 2007 08:26 pm (UTC)

I think you'd like it!

Posted by: Jocelyn Pearce aka Teen Book Reviewer (teenbookreview)
Posted at: August 30th, 2007 03:47 am (UTC)

I love this book, too! And the funny thing is, I was just talking about it with a friend of mine. She wanted help remembering the title and author of a book she'd read and loved ages ago--I knew it was The Girl in the Box as soon as she started describing it! I haven't heard much about this book so it's exciting to know that other people know & love it.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: August 30th, 2007 07:59 am (UTC)

I am psyched to see so many people responding to this post!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: August 30th, 2007 05:43 pm (UTC)

Sounds great - intense and suspenseful! And I checked our library's online catalog, and it's there. They even have it in Spanish! - a. fortis

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: August 30th, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC)

Muy bueno! I hope you like it.

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