J is for Jo, THE DOWNSTAIRS GIRL, listening, learning, yearning, by Stacey Lee (book review)

book cover of The Downstairs Girl, by Stacey Lee. Published by G. P. Putnam & Sons | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A new advice column to save the newspaper,
a new job to feed them,
a horse race to save them from a criminal!

Living secretly in a forgotten basement, 17-year-old Jo and her grandfather frugally manage on their small income while conversations drift down from the newspaper office above. Being Chinese means daily discrimination, even when carefully staying in society’s shadows.

Her grandfather is a legendary horse trainer, but when he’s injured, Jo must become lady’s maid to cruel debutante Caroline whose wealthy father controls much of 1880s Atlanta.

Like her black friends, Jo is expected to be neither seen nor heard, forced to the back of the horse-drawn trolley, shut out of most jobs.

But Jo must become bold to get medical treatment for her grandfather, to seize the role of advice columnist Miss Sweetie for the newspaper, to discover the tiniest clue about her parents and why they left her.

How many times can Caroline sneak away before the teen’s mother suspects and fires Jo for obeying her orders?

How often can Jo appear at the newspaper office as veiled Miss Sweetie before its young editor recognizes her voice?

How can she get grandfather’s cure from a notorious criminal with so little money in hand?

If Jo can dare to give advice to white society, perhaps she can dare to ride in a horse race as no woman ever has!

+++++
Before reading The Downstairs Girl, I didn’t know that Chinese workers were brought into the South during Reconstruction to replace slaves. No surprise that so many ran away from plantations to cities like Atlanta and Augusta.

What other under-told stories are you finding as you read these days?
**kmm

Book info: The Downstairs Girl / Stacey Lee. G.P. Putnam & Sons, 2019. [author Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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