The Downstairs Girl

Written by:
Stacey Lee
Narrated by:
Emily Woo Zeller

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
August 2019
10 hours 22 minutes
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, 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. With prose that is witty, insightful, and at times heartbreaking, Stacey Lee masterfully crafts an extraordinary social drama set in the New South.
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Delightful book - good story with some humor - good reader!

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Linda C.

Sweet read. Great characters and excellent narrator.

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great read!

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Karen K.

Loved it. The character of Jo was fantastic. Despite all of the things that were against her, she did not give up but kept on going. Compelling read.

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Emily C.

A very engaging and smart read!

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Cynthia B.

Stunningly written by a masterful storyteller and beautifully performed by the audio narrator, this book is my new favorite discovery. The story is so good, I wish I never finished it; I miss the characters already. Set in late 19th century Atlanta at the beginning of Jim Crow, the life experience of a 17 year old Chinese American girl, living secretly with her old guardian in the basement of a white family’s home, could have made a devastatingly traumatic story. Instead, the author gives us a whip-smart, determined heroine-narrator who shows us the social ills of her world but also her joys of family and friends, budding romance, independence, and the strength to reinvent herself. It’s a lovely, often funny; sometimes dangerous, and always heartwarming coming of age story steeped in a rich social history landscape. On top of that, we’re given a wonderful horse (and heart pounding horse race), an adorable dog, and absorbing mysteries connected to Jo’s past. I did not see the reveals coming. Through it all, the author weaves sentences of beauty - Jo expresses her thoughts almost poetically; one gorgeous turn of phrase after another; even the sharp ones. I loved these characters, I loved the language. I will be reading this one again!!!

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A must read. Author combined serious subject matter with a splash of humor. Reader was a perfect match for this story.

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