I can’t tell you how many times I checked out The Downstairs Girl before I actually finished it. That is absolutely no indication of how good it is, it just simply wasn’t on my radar the first few times I downloaded my loaner copy. Earlier this summer, I discovered the wonder that is Overdrive through my library. Basically, Overdrive allows you to check out digital library books from your local branch (or wherever you have a library card). It is basically the best thing I discovered during the pandemic.
The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
The Downstairs Girl is the story of Jo Kuan, a Chinese American teenager living in Atlanta in the 1890s. She was seemingly dropped off, as a newborn, at the door of an abandoned barn in downtown Atlanta. Jo is raised by her ‘uncles’ and, as a teenager, is a lady’s maid to the daughter of one of the wealthiest’ men in Atlanta.
She begins moonlighting as a proper Southern lady in a newspaper column “Dear Mrs. Sweetie.” Her column is very popular and basically saves the failing newspaper. As her column gains traction, she uses it address some harder societal topics such as race and gender.
Her column angers many people and before long, Mrs. Sweetie’s identity is compromised. This sends her on a wild goose chase to find out who her parents were, why they abandoned her, and who the mysterious ‘uncles’ were.
I have to warn you, you’ll need some tissues to get through this one! I genuinely loved this story so much. Let me know if you read The Downstairs Girl. You can purchase it here.