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The Downstairs Girl
The Downstairs Girl
The Downstairs Girl
Audiobook10 hours

The Downstairs Girl

Written by Stacey Lee

Narrated by Emily Woo Zeller

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

4/5

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About this audiobook

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.

By day, 17-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.

LanguageEnglish
PublisherTantor Audio
Release dateAug 13, 2019
ISBN9781541445291
The Downstairs Girl

Reviews for The Downstairs Girl

Rating: 3.8923076923076922 out of 5 stars
4/5

260 ratings21 reviews

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  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Exceptional. I recommended it to all my friends and the ones that did read it said it was the best book they had read in a long time. I actually bought the hardcover copy after reading the book and I have yet to have it returned to me as my friends keep passing it along to others! It has not been long since I read it and I could totally read it again. That's unusual for me. The narrator does a fabulous job bringing to life the characters, especially Jo.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Wonderful Book! Audio reader brought it alive! Almost want to start it over immediately;)
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    After being dismissed from her job as a hat maker, Jo Kuan is forced into a job as a lady's maid. Her charge is difficult, cantankerous, and determined to make Jo uncomfortable. Jo and her adopted father, Old Gin, live in a hidden cellar. Above them lives the Bell's a newspaper family. When Jo learns that the newspaper is in trouble, she begins pinning an agony aunt column "Dear Miss Sweetie." Her irreverent columns, and challenges to society's normal quickly lands her in hot water, as people across the city try and uncover her identity.I was pleased to discover a strong, female character, determined to make a difference in the world. I loved Jo's attitude and point of view. Although Jo was a strong character, a lot of the secondary characters were one dimensional and felt like caricatures. The plot itself was a bit predictable, and easily resolved. Overall, 3 out of 5 stars.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    I was going to give this four stars but I'm bumping it up because my mum, who is sick in bed right now, was so very charmed and entertained by this book and she never likes anything.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    Historical fiction set in late 1800's post Civil War Atlanta. The downstairs girl of the title, Jo Kuan, is a 17 year old Chinese American teen living with Old Gin, the man who raised her since she was left on his doorsteps as a baby. There are issues Jo faces with racism, colorism, discrimination against women (side stories concerning suffragettes) and classism.Jo is spunky and has lots of barriers thrown in her way which she internalizes and strives to overcome, one by one.I guessed the mystery surrounded her parents pretty quickly; follow the breadcrumbs.I listened to the audiobook and thoroughly enjoyed listening to the narrator Emily Woo Zeller do all the southern accents, both female and male, really well.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    Jo Kuan is a Chinese American young woman living in segregated Atlanta in the years following the Civil War. I loved that she was a strong character that shared her opinions fearlessly in a creative way. I felt like much of the novel was predictable, but it was still entertaining. It was a slice of history, particularly the Chinese American experience, that I knew little about. “We are all like candles, and whether we are single or joined with another does not affect how brightly we can burn.”“Somehow, Old Gin and I have managed to fit ourselves into a society that, like a newspaper, rarely comes in colors other than black and white.”