Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Downstairs Girl – Stacey Lee

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction


A Chinese girl stuck in the land of the white during a time when racism and ethnic inequalities featured amongst the worst damaging human traits in history. Racism is still a gigantic issue nowadays but back then, it was a horrible time for people of color and ethnicity. How to survive at such a time without your soul dying a slow, excruciating death at the atrocious and humiliating treatment? Jo Kuan found a way to cope but the path she set herself on was fraught with perils and navigating it could mean more danger than mere exposure.

Jo Kuan was a fantastic character with a strong female voice and a clever wit that had a powerful impact on me. I empathized with her in her troubles, worried alongside her, cheered when she persevered. She was the epitome of everything people of color and ethnicity had to face back then. I am not American and my skin is brown and it wasn’t hard to put myself in her shoes and the other black people in the story who had to face myriad difficulties because of their skin color.

It is infuriating to see that even nowadays, in a time when we’re supposed to be modern and enlightened, some still carry those prejudices and spread that hatred. This book hit so many salient issues faced not just by people of color but also issues faced by women. It is heartbreaking how deep racism lies that even women weren’t united in the fight for their rights. The majority of women let society dictate their actions and Jo had to face the pain and humiliation that brought.

However, it was also heartening to see the good apples in the pile of rotten ones, those with their kindness and lack of prejudice, how liberal they were in their thoughts. The author had a fresh and appealing writing style, with awe-inspiring characters, a wit that was a true pleasure to read, a good plot that kept you engaged in the story and plot twists that had your stomach in knots. I loved everything about this book.

On a side-note, a lot of people do not read the Young Adult genre because they can’t seem to get themselves into the skin of teenagers, as they call it. But the Young Adult genre isn’t just high school drama – no, it’s fantasy and sci-fi and historical fiction like this excellent gem. I am glad I’m an eclectic reader and enjoy a variety of genres. I can tell you one thing for sure, if you do not read Young Adult books such as these, you are missing out on a world of wonder.

Synopsis: 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.


I'm a die-hard Book Dragon and also an advanced introvert. My blog's about books, books and more books. (yep, that was easy) I might, from time to time, write about life and its vagaries. I like taking pictures of books and doing origami and cross-stitch.

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