Hey guys! I'll be reviewing this book as part of Nori's SST. So, I received this book in exchange for an honest review, which doesn't impact my review in any way.
Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
Version: ARC Paperback
Rating: 5 stars
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, a 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. Though fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the army to bring help—she still has the “bossy” cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenage girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?
I remember reading the Magic Treehouse series as a kid, one of which took place in 1906, San Francisco, during the great earthquake. Many years later, I am reading about this earthquake, but from a totally different (and more accurate!) perspective.
Mercy Wong is a Chinese-American teen growing up in San Francisco's Chinatown. The first few chapters are an eye-opening experience to the racism of the time, with Mercy conniving her way into St. Clare's School for Girls, to show that she is just like any other girl, so she can succeed and help her family.
Mercy is smart and sassy and she knows when to pick her battles. It's difficult being both a girl and a person of color in the early 1900s, so in order to get what she wants, she has to pick her allies wisely.
"I find the company of a book much more interesting."I decide I like this girl who doesn't care what people think, and therefore, doesn't trade in petty gossip. I bet she's the kid of person who, if she knew your secret, would consider it beneath her to pass it along.
Reading about the education of girls and the treatment of those of color made me grateful that both have improved considerably. I applaud Mercy for being a forward thinker, wanting to start a business, questioning the use of embroidery and comportment when there are more important things for a woman to do and also when she stood up for the deaf man who was only trying to give them the cow, Forgivus.
The characters and the girls Mercy met at St. Clare's - what I liked about them was how multi-dimensional they were. It took several chapters, but the girls (even Elodie) warmed up to Mercy and had their fair share of troubles. Headmistress Crouch was even kinder to her. Francesca and her bookworm nature I also liked! The scene with her standing up to her bratty fiance was great.
I enjoyed the message of staying true to your family and heritage, and especially yourself. Mercy was a tough-as-bones character, with her high cheekbones. There needs to be more diverse books with Asian characters! The 1906 San Francisco earthquake told from a totally different perspective offered new insight, and its something I wish more historical fiction books did.
It matters not how many wrong turns you make, but that you keep moving. Eventually, we'll find our way out, given enough time.