February 19, 2021
Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Asian-American, Prejudice, Racism, Coming of Age
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The Downstairs Girl is set in 1890s Atlanta where a Chinese-American girl having no voice challenges racial and gender issues. Let go from her job at a milliner’s shop because she was a “saucebox,” seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan now works as a lady’s maid for the cruel and spoiled daughter of a wealthy man. Jo and Old Gin (affectionately thought of as “grandfather”) have always lived secretly in the basement below a newspaper man’s family. Jo loves WORDS and writing and so one day, Jo has the idea to write a column for the newspaper in order to help them build their readership and compete with the other newspaper in town. At night, she writes the column and drops her submissions in their mailbox. Her column, Dear Miss Sweetie, becomes popular for its modern and controversial opinions and the talk of the town. Meanwhile in her day life, Jo struggles to survive her ordeals as a lady’s maid and also plans a dangerous investigation to find her biological father who had abandoned her as a baby.