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The Girl in the Box Paperback – November 28, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Dundurn Press (November 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1926607260
  • ISBN-13: 978-1926607269
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,992,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


ABNA Publisher Weekly Review
In a series of deftly handled flashes ... this novel successfully juggles themes involving relationships, commitment, professional jealousy and helplessness in the face of international issues.
--Publishers' Weekly

One to Watch: The protagonist's dark past, not to mention the book's focus on international issues, professional jealousy and journalistic crusading, is akin to [Stieg] Larsson's Lizbet Salander. --Quill and Quire, Jan./Feb. 2011

"Complex, fascinating, subtle and intensely emotional, this is a book that...will profoundly impact its readers." ( 2011-09-13)

Dalton has a way with the written word and with telling this heart-gripping story about hope, love, and doing what's right. (

Dropping you right into the heat of Guatemala, Sheila Dalton proves from the first few pages that she has an incredible eye for detail. The story moves around to a number of diverse locations, but Dalton handles them all beautifully, adding in small details which really enhance the imagery. From the sweltering heat of Guatemala, to the frozen wasteland of Northern Newfoundland, I constantly found myself being sucked into her settings. ( 2012-03-26)

Amidst all the noise on the web, it's often hard to find the quiet treasures that lie beneath the hubbub of tweeting and tooting of marketing horns. The Girl in the Box is the best literary discovery I've stumbled upon in a long time. ( 2012-04-20)

"The Girl in the Box is an intelligent read…Sheila Dalton’s characters are fascinatingly complex and interact so naturally that you forget you are reading a book at all. The narrative is beautiful, her descriptions delicately evocative yet she never shies away from the truth of any situation." (Judith

From the Inside Flap

A mute Mayan girl held captive in a crate in the Guatemalan jungle, a big-city psychoanalyst with a rescue complex, and a journalist with a broken heart are the characters in Sheila Dalton's second literary novel. Inez, a traumatized young Mayan woman originally from Guatemala, has killed Caitlin's partner, leaving Caitlin to figure out why.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 21 customer reviews
The novel was researched and written beautifully.
Naj (Unputdownable Books)
This is not a book that you will want to give away, put it on your book shelf and read it again and again.
Amazon Customer
The characters were easy to connect with, very "real."
Common Sense

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Madley93 on February 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
A number of months ago, I came across the unfamiliar term "literary fiction". What is Literary Fiction? There are various definitions and opinions, but the one that stood out for me is that with Literary Fiction "what is really important are the thoughts, desires, and motivations of the characters as well as the underlying social and cultural threads that act upon them". (Nathan Bransford) ("What Makes Literary Fiction Literary")

For me, "The Girl in the Box" is Literary Fiction. In the character of Caitlin Shaughnessy, as much as we think we know her thoughts, desires, and motivations, as the novel evolves so do these aspects of Caitlin's personality. And in some ways, without even knowing it, the reader seeks that evolution, and the author delivers.

The human conditions existing in Guatemala are among the subjects tackled by Sheila Dalton. This book speaks to human relationships of love, friendship, trust, jealousy, pain, suffering, and enlightenment. The characters are complex and the plot line is intricate and deftly woven by the author.

The storyline is not linear, but rather, it is told from various characters' perspective, back and forth over a time span of approximately six months. This means the reader must stay focused on who is speaking and telling the tale. I truly enjoy novels written in this style - it keeps me interested in `who will speak next'! If the reader is one who enjoys fiction with a chronological plot line, this book may be a challenge.

While not technically highlighted as a mystery novel, there were many elements of mystery throughout this novel. I found the most intriguing mysteries were between the characters, how relationships developed, changed, grew, and in some cases, deteriorated.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By OutNColorado on January 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
Sheila Dalton is a master of words; this book delivered passages that pulled my mind completely into the story. Her writing captures the fundamental reason that I read: to be transported to another place and time-totally removing myself from the day-to-day realities of my own life.

The combination of her prose with a story of a psycho-analyst who rescues a girl from the Guatemalan jungle is a win-win. As the story unfolds, the doctor is found dead at the hands of the girl. This leaves the doctor's girlfriend, Caitlin, to find out what really happened, as she struggles to understand her own feelings and relationships with both the doctor and the girl.

Caitlin's journey follows a path of both introspection and close examination of the behavior of others. I highly recommend that you take the journey with her.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sam Sattler on February 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
The Girl in the Box, set deep in the Mayan highlands of Guatemala, begins in February 1983as Guatemalan rebels continue their fight against the military government that rules the country. The Mayans find themselves caught in the crossfire - forced by the rebels to provide food and shelter, but brutally punished by the army when caught doing so. Despite the continued fighting and associated danger, Canadian psychoanalyst Jerry Simpson has returned to the area for another extended visit.

This time, however, he will return to Canada with a girl who has been forced by her Mayan parents to live for several years in a "box" they built for her. Inez refuses to speak but appears to be physically healthy and willing to travel with Dr. Simpson. Until he can find the right treatment facility for Inez, Simpson plans to hire a private nurse to live with him and Inez in his home while a colleague of his works with her there.

Caitlin Shaughnessy, an independent journalist and Simpson's longtime partner, is able to put aside her initial misgivings about the situation and comes to love the charismatic Inez almost as much as Simpson loves her. But Caitlin's world will shockingly be shattered when she learns that the doctor has been killed by his young Guatemalan patient. Inez, more uncommunicative than ever, cannot explain what happened and investigators assume that she killed Dr. Simpson in a fit of rage. No one can know what triggered that rage. Caitlin, though, understands that she will be unable to forgive Inez, or even to resume her life, until she learns exactly what happened between Simpson and Inez - and why.

Sheila Dalton's portrayal of village life during this bloody period in Guatemalan history is both enlightening and touching.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Naj (Unputdownable Books) on January 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
The Girl in the Box follows the story about Jerry Simpson, a Canadian psychoanalyst on vacation in Guatemala. He rescues Inez, a young Mayan girl who was chained and locked up in a windowless shed by her parents because they believed there was an animal in her.

As a paranormal reader, I usually don't read these types of literary psychological novels. And the biggest surprise is. I liked it. The novel was researched and written beautifully. It was somewhat dark, very realistic and definitely movie dram potential. It was written in different point of views, mostly focusing on Caitlin Shaughnessy, a Canadian journalist and life partner of Jerry.

Inez is mute, possibly autistic, and has murdered Jerry, and Caitlin does everything in her power to find out what really happened and in the process writes a book about it. The Girl in the Box follows leads of many different types of people that I found amazingly well written and narrated.

Dalton is an amazing writer with skills way beyond any other author I have read and The Girl in the Box is a perfect specimen to showcase her epic skills that left me enlightened. This is definitely a read for the fiction lovers but not for the paranormal young adult readers.
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More About the Author

Sheila Dalton was born in the U.K. and immigrated to Canada with her family as a child. She returned to attend the University of London and afterward traveled through Central America. She completed her degree at the University of Toronto, eventually becoming a librarian. She is currently an eResources librarian at a large district branch. She also works as a freelance editor and writer. Among her wide-ranging interests are the visual arts and Vipassana (Insight) meditation, which she has practiced for many years. Sheila's work for children and adults has been published extensively. Her nonfiction work includes three children's books on wild animals, a picture book, Bubblemania, and a literary novel, Tales of the Ex-Fire Eater (1994). Her poetry and fiction have been published in many literary magazines. Trial by Fire (Napoleon A1998) was Sheila's first novel for young adults.

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