Title: The Downstairs Girl
Author: Stacey Lee
Genre: Historical Fiction (Young Adult)
About the book: It follows a Chinese teenager named Jo Kuan. She works as a maid by day and writes an anonymous advice column by night. Jo challenges commonly held ideas of race and gender in 1800s Atlanta, which leads to backlash from readers.
I received an advanced review copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.
First impressions: The cover sold me. I was also intrigued by the title and premise.
Characters: Jo is curious and resourceful. I saw so much of myself in her. I enjoyed seeing the different individuals develop as the story went on. I wasn’t too fond of certain characters early on, yet they grew on me.
I love diversity and representation of traditionally marginalized groups, especially when it’s done right.
“One should never confuse cost with value.”
Writing: There’s a little bit of romance but not too much. I’m no expert on how people in Atlanta around 1980 spoke, but in my opinion, the language seems to capture that time period well.
Final thoughts: The novel gets better, and the ending is satisfying.
I highly recommend The Downstairs Girl especially if you’re a fan of historical fiction. Even if you aren’t, it’s an eye-opening read that explores racism and sexism from different perspectives.
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