The Girl in Cell 49B by Dorian Box

In The Hiding Girl, Dorian Box’s tough and resourceful young protagonist, Emily Calby, flees a horrific murder and spends months on the streets and on the run. Her survival depends on toughness and determination, and the help of a former gang member who recognizes in her shades of his own youth.

The Girl in Cell 49B

In this sequel, she finds herself in trouble again right from the get-go, but it’s trouble of a different kind. An unsympathetic criminal justice system is determined to send her to prison for what readers know was an act of self-defense in book one. Because there were no witnesses, it’s easy for a malicious prosecutor to twist this into a tale of murder, and Emily has the misfortune to have been assigned a particularly nasty prosecutor.

Locked in juvenile prison, without any family on the outside to help her along, she falls back on the only person in the world she can rely on: herself. Assigned to work in the prison library, she begins to teach herself law and slowly pieces together a case that astonishes even her court-assigned defense attorney.

All along, she has to deal with the hardships of prison life, including gangs, violence, bullying, and corrupt guards. Emily’s survival instincts, her determination and internal resources make her stronger than many of the most hardened inmates. Her strong sense of justice compel her to stick up for a weaker inmate, and even to avenge abuses wrought on another at the risk of having to spend the rest of her own life in prison.

What makes this book such a good read is Box’s sympathetic and deeply engaging portrayal of a tough, smart girl determined to beat the odds, even when there doesn’t seem to be a ray of hope anywhere. There’s plenty of action too. If you’re looking for a good thriller with character and substance, this one’s for you.