Book Review of
The Downstairs Girl
By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light. With prose that is witty, insightful, and at times heartbreaking, Stacey Lee masterfully crafts an extraordinary social drama set in the New South.
The Downstairs Girl is a historical YA fiction book about Jo, a Chinese American, living in Atlanta in the late 1800s. Jo lives in the basement, where she listens to the happens upstairs. During the day Jo works as a lady’s maid who speaks her mind.
This book packs in all kinds of issues from racism, feminism, voting rights, and more. The author deals with all kinds of different issues in this book.
Overall I liked this book. It took me to a time and place that I didn’t know a lot about. I knew nothing about Chinese Americans in the south during the 1800s, and this book made me want to know more.
The book did have one scene that I thought was inappropriate for a YA book, but maybe that is because I don’t read a lot of YA books. The scene could have been less descriptive and been fine.