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The Downstairs Girl starts with the main character, Jo Kuan, a seventeen-year-old Chinese girl living in Georgia. She is currently working for Ms. English at a hat shop and she does not get paid very much, however, she loves her job and is very good at it. Eventually, she moves on and starts writing an advice column, “Miss Sweetie,” in which she gives advice to the average woman reading on everything from relationships to growing the power and value of women in society. This essentially breaks the paper, becoming widely popular.
I enjoy this book because it provides an interesting take on a young female living during a time when women are slowly working to gain rights in a mainly conservative place. This book is very different because it deals with an unfamiliar time in history that is not often focused on. Jo brings a lot of perspective because she has gained experience from a cultural point of view from both Georgia and China. She has been shaped by uncles who have visited her and imparted their own bits of knowledge to help her grow and learn. I love her new take on the world around her and her ability to continue standing up for her ideas and beliefs. I also find it very interesting that she is able to learn from those around her very easily. - Tanya H. (Sunset Teen Volunteer)