I recommend this book for: middle and high school
This was my first Shannon Hale, and I loved it! In a fantasy world reminiscent of central Asia, Dashti becomes a maid to Lady Saren. On her first day on the job, Saren's father locks his daughter up in a tower for refusing to marry the powerful man he has chosen, and Dashti is locked in with her. At first it doesn't seem so bad to practical Dashti - there is enough food for seven years, and she has plenty of time to write in her journal - but then rats, extreme temperatures, and a visit from Saren's angry suitor combine to make conditions extremely uncomfortable. Even when the man Saren wants to marry, Khan Tegus, comes to visit, the noble girl is too frightened to speak to him and orders Dashti to take her place. You can probably guess where that goes!
The story comes from a little-known Grimm fairy tale, but it reminded me of a cross between Cinderella and Cyrano de Bergerac. This is a great one for fans of fairy tales, fantasy without dragons or wizards, or chaste romance.