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Author: Lee, Stacey
1890, Atlanta. By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady's maid for the cruel Caroline Payne, the 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."
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG+
Reading Level: 5.50
Points: 14.0 Quiz: 506285
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 9-12
Reading Level: 5.30
Points: 21.0 Quiz: 77783
School Library Journal (+) (00/06/19)
Booklist (+) (06/01/19)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 06/01/2019 Gr 7 Up—Jo Kuan knows that because she's Chinese, she does not fit anyone's expectations in 1890 Atlanta, but she doesn't mind. She's happy to be unobtrusive, making hats for the fashionable women in town and staying out of trouble with her adoptive father, Old Gin. But when she loses her job at the hat shop, Jo must find work elsewhere, returning to the household of one of the most important families in town to serve as a lady's maid for their daughter. Saddled with an ungrateful mistress, Jo must face the inequalities in her city. Frustrated, she begins penning an anonymous advice column as "Miss Sweetie," dispensing opinions on everything from fashion to suffragettes. Jo is happy with anonymity, but soon Atlanta is abuzz with curiosity about Miss Sweetie, leading Jo to wonder if remaining quiet and safe is the most important thing or if there are reasons to speak up. Along the way, she uncovers truths about her own past that call into question even more of the inequalities she sees in the present. Though society may try to push aside those it sees as different, Jo demonstrates that everyone has a place and a story to be told. VERDICT Unflinching in its portrayals of racism yet ultimately hopeful and heartfelt, this narrative places voices frequently left out of historical fiction center stage. Recommended for any collection.—Zoë McLaughlin, Michigan State University - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 06/01/2019 *Starred Review* It’s 1890 in Atlanta, and Jo Kuan has a secret: she’s the anonymous author of the popular, yet polarizing, new agony aunt column “Dear Miss Sweetie.” After spending her life living in a secret basement room (a relic of the Underground Railroad) beneath the press offices of The Focus, a newspaper run by the Bell family, she’s picked up a masterful vocabulary to match her sharp wit, and the combination proves intoxicating to Atlanta’s young ladies. But if anyone found out that a Chinese American teenager was behind the column, she’d be run out of town or worse. Lee (Outrun the Moon, 2016) 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. She pulls no punches when it comes to Jo’s experiences of being Chinese in the Reconstruction South: a meeting of Atlanta’s suffragettes proves unwelcoming despite their claim to want votes for all women, and though there’s stirring romance between Jo and the son of the Bell family, Jo acknowledges the difficulties in that path. But best of all is Jo’s first-person narrative, which crackles with as much witty wordplay and keen observations as her column. 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. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.