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Reviews

A triumph of storytelling. A bold portrait of this country's past, brilliantly painted with wit, heartbreak, and unflinching honesty. Everyone needs to read this book
Stephanie Garber, <i>New York Times</i> bestselling author of <i>Caraval</i>
Immersive, important, and thoroughly entertaining, The Downstairs Girl sparkles with all of Stacey Lee's signature humour, charm, warmth, and wisdom
Kelly Loy Gilbert, Morris Award Finalist for <i>Conviction</i>
A compelling domestic drama with a winning heroine
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
Jo's wit and humour shine through her narration both in the sage advice she hands out as Miss Sweetie and her casual observations . . . a compelling domestic drama with a winning heroine
BCCB (starred review)
I spent an entire day reading this! I couldn't put it down. It was so much fun. Stacey writes great historical fiction centering people of colour, and I got to learn cool history while also rooting for a badass
Camryn Garrett, author of <i>Full Disclosure</i>
A fascinating story of life in the margins . . . The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee effortlessly blends historical fact and tightly-plotted fiction into a story that you'll absolutely devour in one day
Hypable
In her latest work, Lee continues to demonstrate that Chinese people were present - and had a voice - in American history. She deftly weaves historical details with Jo's personal story of finding a voice and a place for herself in order to create a single, luminous work
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A fascinating story of life in the margins . . . The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee effortlessly blends historical fact and tightly-plotted fiction into a story that you'll absolutely devour in one day
Hypable
Featuring historical signposts (streetcar segregation, suffragists on safety bicycles) and memorable, well-developed characters, this captivating novel explores intersectionality, conveys the effects of restrictions placed on women and people of colour, and celebrates the strengths and talents of marginalized people struggling to break society's barriers in any age
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
This vividly rendered historic novel will keep readers riveted as witty, observant Jo deals with the dangers of questioning power
The Washington Post
Lee has concocted another thrilling historical novel, blending stellar plotting and a dynamic cast of characters with well-researched details and sharp commentary on America's history of racism and prejudice. This spectacular, voice-driven novel raises powerful questions about how we understand the past, as well as the ways our current moment is still shaped by that understanding
Booklist (starred review)
Clever, funny, and poignant, The Downstairs Girl is Stacey Lee at her best
Evelyn Skye, <i>New York Times</i> bestselling author of <i>The Crown's Game</i>
Lee's profound writing tackles topics of politics and race with a main character who isn't afraid to speak her mind
Buzzfeed
A gorgeous tale that will steal your heart. This is not only a keeper, but a classic!
Robin LaFevers, <i>New York Times</i> bestselling author of the His Fair Assassin trilogy
[A] gorgeously researched, butter-rich feminist historical novel from one of the best in YA
Melissa Albert, bestselling author of <i>The Hazel Wood</i>
A compelling domestic drama with a winning heroine
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
A jewel of a story. By shining a light on the lives of those whom history usually ignores, Stacey Lee gives us a marvellous gift: An entirely new and riveting look at our past
Candace Fleming, award-winning author of <i>The Family Romanov</i>
History, mystery, social commentary, adventure - this book's got it all!
BookRiot
This vividly rendered historic novel will keep readers riveted as witty, observant Jo deals with the dangers of questioning power
The Washington Post
All of Lee's books offer a stunning level of historical accuracy and feel like mini time machines, including her latest. This story about using your voice is one of Lee's best
Paste Magazine
The Downstairs Girl holds a mirror to our present issues while giving us a detailed and vibrant picture of life in the past . . . The challenges Jo faces ring true for the novel's historical setting, but they will also ring strong for Lee's contemporary readers. As a young person, Jo is resoundingly American-an observant, open-minded, forward-thinking new woman with a Chinese face and a Southern accent. Her engaging voice, along with her emerging self-reliance and maturity, drive the novel and make her a character we can easily relate to. Punctuating her narrative with Miss Sweetie's tart and pun-filled advice, Jo's witty and arresting turns of phrase and her positive outlook give buoyancy to her story even in its dire moments. As Jo tackles all injustices head-on, and tension rises, the book races to a soundly satisfying conclusion
The New York Times
This book was fantastic. I loved everything about it, from the characters to the plot to the setting . . . I highly recommend that you check it out!
My Year of Reading Dangerously
Unflinching in its portrayals of racism yet ultimately hopeful and heartfelt, this narrative places voices frequently left out of historical fiction centre stage . . . superb writing, deliberate pacing, and slow reveal of secrets make this a believable and enjoyable read
School Library Journal
All of Lee's books offer a stunning level of historical accuracy and feel like mini time machines, including her latest. This story about using your voice is one of Lee's best
Paste Magazine
[A] gorgeously researched, butter-rich feminist historical novel from one of the best in YA
Melissa Albert, bestselling author of <i>The Hazel Wood</i>
This utterly original historical fiction by Stacey Lee is an absolute delight
Reading Rants
Once again, Stacey Lee shines light on an overlooked segment of America's past and reveals truths about its present . . . A masterful novel from an exceptional storyteller. Highly recommended
Historical Novel Society
An eye-opening social commentary, that's written with warmth and humour, it's definitely worth a read
My Weekly
History, mystery, social commentary, adventure - this book's got it all!
BookRiot
I almost want to dare readers to not be delighted by its newspaper office shenanigans, clandestine assignations in cemeteries, and bicycle-riding adventures, but there's honestly no point. The Downstairs Girl, for all its serious and timely content, is a jolly good time
NPR
The Downstairs Girl is rich in historical detail and anchored by Stacey Lee's buoyant prose and a heroine whose voice leaps off the page
BookPage
This book was fantastic. I loved everything about it, from the characters to the plot to the setting . . . I highly recommend that you check it out!
My Year of Reading Dangerously
Unflinching in its portrayals of racism yet ultimately hopeful and heartfelt, this narrative places voices frequently left out of historical fiction centre stage. Recommended for any collection
School Library Journal (starred review)
I almost want to dare readers to not be delighted by its newspaper office shenanigans, clandestine assignations in cemeteries, and bicycle-riding adventures, but there's honestly no point. The Downstairs Girl, for all its serious and timely content, is a jolly good time
NPR
Unflinching in its portrayals of racism yet ultimately hopeful and heartfelt, this narrative places voices frequently left out of historical fiction centre stage. Recommended for any collection
School Library Journal (starred review)
Featuring historical signposts (streetcar segregation, suffragists on safety bicycles) and memorable, well-developed characters, this captivating novel explores intersectionality, conveys the effects of restrictions placed on women and people of colour, and celebrates the strengths and talents of marginalized people struggling to break society's barriers in any age
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Once again, Stacey Lee shines light on an overlooked segment of America's past and reveals truths about its present . . . A masterful novel from an exceptional storyteller. Highly recommended
Historical Novel Society
In her latest work, Lee continues to demonstrate that Chinese people were present - and had a voice - in American history. She deftly weaves historical details with Jo's personal story of finding a voice and a place for herself in order to create a single, luminous work
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
This utterly original historical fiction by Stacey Lee is an absolute delight
Reading Rants
a definite must-read . . . The Downstairs Girl is a story of race and gender in America that is not often told
Worn Pages and Ink
An apt, powerful read
Woman’s World Magazine
Stacey Lee's most recent novel is a stunning work of historical fiction that explores often-overlooked pieces of America's past and had me gasping at every plot twist
Blossoms and Bullet Journals
Lee has concocted another thrilling historical novel, blending stellar plotting and a dynamic cast of characters with well-researched details and sharp commentary on America's history of racism and prejudice. This spectacular, voice-driven novel raises powerful questions about how we understand the past, as well as the ways our current moment is still shaped by that understanding
Booklist (starred review)
Stacey Lee's most recent novel is a stunning work of historical fiction that explores often-overlooked pieces of America's past and had me gasping at every plot twist
Blossoms and Bullet Journals
a definite must-read . . . The Downstairs Girl is a story of race and gender in America that is not often told
Worn Pages and Ink
The Downstairs Girl is rich in historical detail and anchored by Stacey Lee's buoyant prose and a heroine whose voice leaps off the page
BookPage
Lee's profound writing tackles topics of politics and race with a main character who isn't afraid to speak her mind
Buzzfeed
Jo's wit and humour shine through her narration both in the sage advice she hands out as Miss Sweetie and her casual observations . . . a compelling domestic drama with a winning heroine
BCCB (starred review)
A jewel of a story. By shining a light on the lives of those whom history usually ignores, Stacey Lee gives us a marvellous gift: An entirely new and riveting look at our past
Candace Fleming, award-winning author of <i>The Family Romanov</i>
A gorgeous tale that will steal your heart. This is not only a keeper, but a classic!
Robin LaFevers, <i>New York Times</i> bestselling author of the His Fair Assassin trilogy
An eye-opening social commentary, that's written with warmth and humour, it's definitely worth a read
My Weekly
This has to be my favourite, hands down, Stacey Lee book ever
Utopia State of Mind
This has to be my favourite, hands down, Stacey Lee book ever
Utopia State of Mind
I spent an entire day reading this! I couldn't put it down. It was so much fun. Stacey writes great historical fiction centering people of colour, and I got to learn cool history while also rooting for a badass
Camryn Garrett, author of <i>Full Disclosure</i>
An apt, powerful read
Woman’s World Magazine
Moving, thought-provoking, and historical, Stacey Lee, quite like her protagonist, writes a compelling piece
The Young Folks
Immersive, important, and thoroughly entertaining, The Downstairs Girl sparkles with all of Stacey Lee's signature humour, charm, warmth, and wisdom
Kelly Loy Gilbert, Morris Award Finalist for <i>Conviction</i>
Moving, thought-provoking, and historical, Stacey Lee, quite like her protagonist, writes a compelling piece
The Young Folks
A triumph of storytelling. A bold portrait of this country's past, brilliantly painted with wit, heartbreak, and unflinching honesty. Everyone needs to read this book
Stephanie Garber, <i>New York Times</i> bestselling author of <i>Caraval</i>
The Downstairs Girl holds a mirror to our present issues while giving us a detailed and vibrant picture of life in the past . . . The challenges Jo faces ring true for the novel's historical setting, but they will also ring strong for Lee's contemporary readers. As a young person, Jo is resoundingly American-an observant, open-minded, forward-thinking new woman with a Chinese face and a Southern accent. Her engaging voice, along with her emerging self-reliance and maturity, drive the novel and make her a character we can easily relate to. Punctuating her narrative with Miss Sweetie's tart and pun-filled advice, Jo's witty and arresting turns of phrase and her positive outlook give buoyancy to her story even in its dire moments. As Jo tackles all injustices head-on, and tension rises, the book races to a soundly satisfying conclusion
The New York Times
Unflinching in its portrayals of racism yet ultimately hopeful and heartfelt, this narrative places voices frequently left out of historical fiction centre stage . . . superb writing, deliberate pacing, and slow reveal of secrets make this a believable and enjoyable read
School Library Journal
Clever, funny, and poignant, The Downstairs Girl is Stacey Lee at her best
Evelyn Skye, <i>New York Times</i> bestselling author of <i>The Crown's Game</i>