The Downstairs Girl

Stacey Lee

fiction historical young adult
challenging emotional medium-paced

374 pages | first published 2019

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.

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emotional 52%
hopeful 52%
informative 43%
inspiring 43%
funny 26%
reflective 26%
adventurous 21%
challenging 8%
lighthearted 8%
tense 8%
mysterious 4%
sad 4%


medium 65%
fast 26%
slow 8%

Strong character development?

Yes: 61% | It's complicated: 19% | N/A: 9% | No: 9%

Loveable characters?

Yes: 86% | It's complicated: 4% | N/A: 4% | No: 4%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 100%

Flaws of characters centre-stage?

No: 33% | Yes: 33% | It's complicated: 23% | N/A: 9%

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