Reviews

The Downstairs Girl, by Stacey Lee

ninz's review against another edition

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slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

2.5

dmn5678's review against another edition

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inspiring fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

jesforeverlostinbooks's review against another edition

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5.0

I loved this YA historical fiction & the audio was fabulous. Set at the turn of the century in Atlanta Georgia Jo Kuan is seventeen & tries to live in the the shadows as a Chinese girl but is accustomed to the stares that accompany her wherever she goes.

I didn’t know that, after slavery was abolished, many Southern growers brought in workers from China, hoping to keep their plantations running as they had before the war. Buy the Chinese workers didn’t enjoy being worked to death and paid virtually nothing so most of the Chinese workers fled North or to bigger cities and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prohibited immigration of Chinese Labors for the next six decades, which meant that there were very few Chinese in the South.

I loved Jo who is sassy & smart and before too long she can no longer hide in the background. This book addresses racial issues and segregation not only for Black but the Chinese as well. “No wonder lines must be drawn. The farther away you stand from someone the harder it is to like them.”

Jo learns to believe in herself and not listen to the world. “That’s cause you care too much about what the world says. Listen to those who know you best and you’ll be OK.”

tracythewriter's review against another edition

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5.0

I loved this book so so much. It was such a compelling, thought-provoking read. The book has one of the most gorgeous covers I've ever seen, and the story matches that beauty perfectly. Just...gah...so good. I loved Jo SO MUCH.

vickycbooks's review against another edition

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5.0

Amazing, as expected and as always.

aa27266's review

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adventurous emotional hopeful lighthearted mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0

silvey_bookish's review against another edition

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3.0

This book was selected by my book club for the month of August. Otherwise I would have probably never read it. It’s not a genre I enjoy, nor did I like the writing style. That being said there were no plot holes or aggravating mistakes in the writing it just wasn’t for me.

The book is marketed to young adult. I don’t know what age range that is but I think this book is a good read for someone who’s trying to find something after reading the Dear America book series so more like middle grade. Just a little too young for my reading taste.

erikajdea's review against another edition

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adventurous hopeful fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.5

gordonj's review against another edition

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5.0

Stacey Lee takes you into a world you’re probably familiar with if you paid any attention in your U.S. History class and helps you see it in new ways. Most of us are familiar with the agonies of post reconstruction era South, but few stories shine a spotlight on the Chinese laborers who were shipped in by Southern plantation owners to replace emancipated slaves. This is the world seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan lives in. Much of Jo’s life is lived in secret. She can’t rent, let alone own, property, so she’s forced to live with her uncle in the basement of a white family who owns a failing newspaper. She can’t interact directly with the white patrons of the hat store because her boss says she makes the customers “uncomfortable.” She can’t even participate in the growing Suffrage movement because the women are only concerned with advancing the rights of white women.

What’s a strong, opinionated girl to do? Start an advice column.

She starts submitting columns to the paper under the pseudonym Miss Sweetie and immediately attracts attention, both good and bad, from Atlanta’s high society. Through the column, Jo finds her voice and an outlet to express views on her segregated and chauvinistic society. The more freedom she experiences, the more she wants and soon she is uncovering secrets of her past that threaten to ruin her.

The Downstairs Girl never lets the reader forget how crushing life was for Chinese and Black Americans during this time, but the book isn’t a downer. Mostly this is due to Jo Kuan being such a spirited and sympathetic character. Her story is one of someone who refuses to settle for less and it’s fun watching her get the best of some of her antagonists. Lee’s writing is also witty and engaging, filled with the kind of southern colloquialisms that help transport the reader to this time and place.

esnider320's review against another edition

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4.0

What an amazing read. Not at all what I was expecting. I was expecting the typical YA historical fiction. What I got was so much more; social justice, woman’s empowerment, family secrets and a touch of romance. Definitely a must read!