From the critically-acclaimed author of Under a Painted Sky and Outrun the Moon comes a New York Times bestselling powerful novel about identity, betrayal, and the meaning of family.
A Reese Witherspoon YA Book Club Pick!
A New York Times bestselling novel, The Downstairs Girl is a compelling and poignant story following seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan, a Chinese American girl living in segregated 1890s Atlanta.
'Everyone needs to read this book' Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of Caraval
'A jewel of a story. By shining a light on the lives of those whom history usually ignores, Stacey Lee gives us a marvellous gift: an entirely new and riveting look at our past' Candace Fleming, award-winning author of The Family Romanov
*** Seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan is leading a double life. By day, she works as a lady's maid, navigating life on the margins of a society determined that a person's worth is measured by the colour of their skin. By night, she's the voice behind the most radical advice column in 1890s Atlanta.
Jo is used to feeling invisible, but she won't let it hold her back. While her priority is making sure that she and her father, Old Gin, remain safe in their hideaway beneath a print shop, she still has ambition. And strong opinions of her own that she begins to share in a newspaper advice column under the pseudonym 'Miss Sweetie'. Suddenly, all of Atlanta is talking about her ideas, although little do they know that the witty advice comes from a penniless Chinese girl.
As curiosity about Miss Sweetie mounts, Jo's secret identity may not stay secret for much longer. And as she learns more of the hard truths about her identity and her country, she must find the courage to decide between being herself or staying invisible . . .
Praise for The Downstairs Girl
'Immersive, important, and thoroughly entertaining, The Downstairs Girl sparkles with all of Stacey Lee's signature humour, charm, warmth, and wisdom' Kelly Loy Gilbert, Morris Award Finalist for Conviction
'A gorgeously researched, feminist historical novel' Melissa Albert, bestselling author of The Hazel Wood
'This vividly rendered historic novel will keep readers riveted as witty, observant Jo deals with the dangers of questioning power' The Washington Post
'I couldn't put it down. It was so much fun. Stacey writes great historical fiction centring people of colour' Camryn Garrett, author of Full Disclosure
'[A] thrilling historical novel' Booklist
'A detailed and vibrant picture of life in the past' The New York Times'Clever, funny, and poig
A triumph of storytelling. A bold portrait of this country's past, brilliantly painted with wit, heartbreak, and unflinching honesty. Everyone needs to read this book
A gorgeous tale that will steal your heart. This is not only a keeper, but a classic!
A jewel of a story. By shining a light on the lives of those whom history usually ignores, Stacey Lee gives us a marvellous gift: An entirely new and riveting look at our past
Clever, funny, and poignant, The Downstairs Girl is Stacey Lee at her best
Immersive, important, and thoroughly entertaining, The Downstairs Girl sparkles with all of Stacey Lee's signature humour, charm, warmth, and wisdom
The Downstairs Girl holds a mirror to our present issues while giving us a detailed and vibrant picture of life in the past . . . The challenges Jo faces ring true for the novel's historical setting, but they will also ring strong for Lee's contemporary readers. As a young person, Jo is resoundingly American-an observant, open-minded, forward-thinking new woman with a Chinese face and a Southern accent. Her engaging voice, along with her emerging self-reliance and maturity, drive the novel and make her a character we can easily relate to. Punctuating her narrative with Miss Sweetie's tart and pun-filled advice, Jo's witty and arresting turns of phrase and her positive outlook give buoyancy to her story even in its dire moments. As Jo tackles all injustices head-on, and tension rises, the book races to a soundly satisfying conclusion - The New York Times
In her latest work, Lee continues to demonstrate that Chinese people were present - and had a voice - in American history. She deftly weaves historical details with Jo's personal story of finding a voice and a place for herself in order to create a single, luminous work - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Lee has concocted another thrilling historical novel, blending stellar plotting and a dynamic cast of characters with well-researched details and sharp commentary on America's history of racism and prejudice. 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)
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.