The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee Review

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Genre: Historical Fiction (Multicultural, Asian/Asian-American)

Trigger Warning: Racial slurs

Age: Young Adult (YA)

Rating: 5 stars

This teen historical fiction novel enlightened me of the plight of Chinese immigrants who lived in the South U.S. post-Civil War. Jo is spunky and witty, yearning to make a difference in her community but longing to know who her parents are. Lee tries to keep this as historically accurate as possible with perfect pacing and excellent writing. I think the surprises should’ve been revealed a little more interspersed instead of all at once, plus the romance between Jo and her crush is cliche, but other than that it’s an excellent story!

Synopsis from Amazon:
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.

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