Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Adventure Rating: 4 Stars
From the founding member of We Need Diverse Books comes a powerful novel about identity, betrayal, and the meaning of family.
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 was picked for one of my book clubs and I am so happy it was! I don’t know why I am always surprised that I liked a historical fiction book. I say that every time, so maybe, just maybe I just like historical fiction and need to read more. I keep thinking they might be boring but they aren’t!
Jo Kuan was surprisingly relatable in the way she fought for her rights. She was still kind (key word right there) to those around her but she didn’t stop fighting for justice. She was smart, bold, and witty with how she went about things.
This book does not go very deep into the injustices that minorities faced in the 1890’s. It is more of a light paced read. NOT making light of things, I just mean the read was light. I think this would be a great book for teens to read to dip their toe in the waters of injustice/ historical fiction.
With that being said, I did want a little more conclusion than what we got. There were some twists and turns; some I saw coming, some I didn’t. I really wanted to see what was going to happen with Nathan and Jo, the newspaper, and Jo’s friends and family! I would like a squeal please!
This ended being a surprisingly sweet read! I really enjoyed it!
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