The main character, Moth, lives with her mother in one of the poorest parts of New York City. Life is tough but she knows how to navigate herself through it and dreams of wanting more. However, her dreams crumple when her mother sells her off to a wealthy woman as a maid. Moth, eventually runs away only to find her self on the streets. At this point she realizes that she won't last very long on her own and it not too soon afterward that she gets help from a girl who is a prostitute in training - who seems to live the life that Moth would like to have: one with beauty and no hunger.
The novel is written in Moth's point of view but it has little notes in it written by Dr. Sadie who becomes a friend of Moth's. These notes describe the more historical factors of the book: how a corset squished your organs, how the crime in the poor parts of New York City, and how the virgin cure isn't really a cure (it just an idea that some men hard, that if they slept with a virgin they would be cured of their STD but instead just ended up giving the poor girl the disease). It seems like a crazy idea but at our meeting we talked about how this still goes on in some countries... it is very sad.
However, if your interested in a historical novel then this might just be up your alley...
The Wakeful Dreamer