Title: Outrun the Moon
Author: Stacey Lee
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: 24th May 2016
Rating: 4 Stars
*Thank you to SST for the review copy*
Synopsis: San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.
On April 18, an historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the Army to bring help. Fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, yet Mercy still has the ‘bossy’ cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenaged girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?
Review: Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee was a book that only took me two days to read. It hit me like a ton of bricks that I wasn’t expecting. The emotions that this novel touches upon are more real than I thought. It dug up emotions of my own and it all stirred up inside of me – causing me to be in quite a state. But I don’t regret reading this book in the slightest because it also touches upon so many important themes that need covering in a novel.
For starters, culture is a word that doesn’t even begin to describe this novel. We have Mercy as a main character who is Chinese and living in America. I was so happy to finally stumble across a diverse character. There’s a lot of racial issues in this time and a lot of segregation. All the Chinese people live in Chinatown and seem to have no respect from any of the other ‘white ghosts’ aka the Caucasian people who live there too. They’re looked down on and mistreated. I know that this is something that a lot of minorities can relate to.
That aside, Mercy is someone who may be female and a minority, but she isn’t going to let that stop her chances of becoming someone who means something in the world. She has ambitions to travel and see the world – and she fully intends to do it. She concocts a plan to get her into a prestigious school and works her socks off to make the winds turn in her favour. I really liked her sensible hot-headedness (it doesn’t sound like those two words make sense together, but if anyone can make them make sense, Mercy can!). I liked her determination.
Another thing I really appreciated about this novel is that it had a family that wasn’t dysfunctional, and that was present and loving. Especially in the beginning! I loved Mercy’s ma who was a fortune teller. She was a wise woman and spoke with quotes that were like nuggets of wisdom. They had me thinking while reading the novel.
Feminism is also quite prominent in this novel although in more of a background way. The girls in the school are all expected to be married off and that’s the best chance they are going to get in life. But when Mercy gets there with her ambitions to travel and be independent, it has the girls thinking that maybe they don’t have to be married and aspire to only be a wife. I liked the development of this theme a lot.
Then of course, the earthquake happens and things change a bit in the novel. Suddenly, even the high and mighty are on the same level as the Chinese. A sense of togetherness arises in the novel. You see new relationships form and then grief is hanging heavy in the air. Loss. Devastation. I have lost people close to me and these emotions bowled me over and hit me like a fist. Lee did it beautifully though, and I have to commend her for it.
The only thing I wasn’t really feeling in this book is the romance. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it at all, but that it just took a backseat in this novel and therefore it felt like of meh. I think maybe the book would have been better off without it all in all. But I didn’t mind it being there. I was kind of indifferent.
This was a character driven book and it was done wonderfully. It definitely moved me.
About the Author:
Stacey Lee is a fourth generation Californian with roots in San Francisco Chinatown. Born in Southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. She has lots of experience with earthquakes, having skinned her knees more times than she wants to remember diving under tables. One day she hopes to own a hypoallergenic horse and live by the sea. See what she’s up to on Twitter & Instagram: @staceyleeauthor.
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