Atlanta, 1890. By day, Jo Kuan works as a lady's maid. By night, she writes a newspaper advice column under the name Miss Sweetie. But when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender, she isn't prepared for the backlash. Rich with historical detail and a compelling heroine. Stacey Lee is one of the best YA historical fiction authors writing today!
From the critically-acclaimed author of Under a Painted Sky and Outrun the Moon and founding member of We Need Diverse Books comes a powerful novel about identity, betrayal, and the meaning of family.
"This vividly rendered historic novel will keep readers riveted as witty, observant Jo deals with the dangers of questioning power." --The Washington Post
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.
A Washington Post Best Children's Book of the Year YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults List A Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year A Crystal Kite Award Winner
"Holds a mirror to our present issues while giving us a detailed and vibrant picture of life in the past." --The New York Times
"A joyful read . . . The Downstairs Girl, for all its serious and timely content, is a jolly good time." --NPR
About the Author
Stacey Lee is the critically acclaimed author of the novels Under a Painted Sky and Outrun the Moon, the winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction. She is a fourth-generation Chinese American and a founding member of We Need Diverse Books. Born in Southern California, she graduated from UCLA and then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. She lives with her family outside San Francisco. You can visit Stacey at staceyhlee.com. Or follow her on Twitter @staceyleeauthor.
A Washington Post Best Children’s Book of the Year A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year A New York Public Library Best Book for Teens A BookPage Best Book of the Year
“Vividly rendered, intriguingly plotted . . . Jo’s example of resistance and hope is sure to resonate with today’s readers.” —The Washington Post
“Holds a mirror to our present issues while giving us a detailed and vibrant picture of life in the past.” —The New York Times “A joyful read . . . The Downstairs Girl, for all its serious and timely content, is a jolly good time.” —NPR
“A triumph of storytelling. The Downstairs Girl is a bold portrait of this country’s past, brilliantly painted with wit, heartbreak, and unflinching honesty. Everyone needs to read this book.” —Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of Caraval
“A gorgeous tale that will steal your heart. This is not only a keeper, but a classic!” —Robin LaFevers, New York Times bestselling author of the His Fair Assassin trilogy
“A jewel of a story. By shining a light on the lives of those whom history usually ignores, Lee gives us a marvelous gift: An entirely new and riveting look at our past." —Candace Fleming, award-winning author of The Family Romanov “Clever, funny, and poignant, The Downstairs Girl is Stacey Lee at her best.” —Evelyn Skye, New York Times bestselling author of The Crown’s Game
“Immersive, important, and thoroughly entertaining, The Downstairs Girl sparkles with all of Stacey Lee’s signature humor, charm, warmth, and wisdom.” —Kelly Loy Gilbert, Morris Award Finalist for Conviction
* “Luminous . . . An optimistic, sophisticated portrayal of one facet of Chinese-American—and simply American—history.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* “This spectacular, voice-driven novel raises powerful questions about how we understand the past, as well as the ways our current moment is still shaped by that understanding.” —Booklist, starred review
* “Unflinching in its portrayals of racism yet ultimately hopeful and heartfelt, this narrative places voices frequently left out of historical fiction center stage.” —School Library Journal, starred review
* “This captivating novel explores intersectionality, conveys the effects of restrictions placed on women and people of color, and celebrates the strengths and talents of marginalized people struggling to break society’s barriers in any age.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
* “A compelling domestic drama with a winning heroine.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review
"The Downstairs Girl is rich in historical detail and anchored by Stacey Lee’s buoyant prose and a heroine whose voice leaps off the page." —BookPage
“Lee's profound writing tackles topics of politics and race with a main character who isn't afraid to speak her mind.” —Buzzfeed
“History, mystery, social commentary, adventure—this book’s got it all!” —BookRiot
“All of Lee’s books offer a stunning level of historical accuracy and feel like mini time machines, including her latest. This story about using your voice is one of Lee’s best.” —Paste Magazine