Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
Publication Date: May 24th 2016 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction.
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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?
Outrun the Moon can be split into two halves. The first centers on our protagonist, Mercy, and her determination to be accepted into a prestigious school in order to kick start her desires for a better life. The second centers on the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, the scope of the tragedy and how such events can bring people together. The book is slow paced and the characters are the main focus of this book, focusing on the emotional impact of such disasters and how our characters respond to it.
Mercy was an incredible protagonist. As a Chinese born American, Mercy is very much aware of the limited opportunities that lie before her. However, that does not deter her from wanting to carve out a better life for herself and her family. To do so, she comes up with a crafty plan to secure a place at the prestigious St. Clare’s School for Girls. Her boldness and confidence in her abilities was inspiring. So many people try and try to knock her down but she is nothing but resilient. When the earthquake strikes, Mercy is quick to take charge. Even when the weight of loss and grief threatens to pull her down she refuses to give up. She is such an inspirational character and a great example of how you should never let others dictate your life.
Friendship is at the heart of this book and with Mercy’s acceptance into this prestigious school she is immediately singled out solely because she is Chinese. A lot of the girls are wary to be associated with her and some even look down their noses upon her. However, when the earthquake strikes, these girls are forced to work together and in doing so they form a bond that defies all social boundaries. Together they learn to celebrate and embrace their differences and support one another. The friendships in this book is absolutely stunning.
When it comes down to it, this story is about how a tragic event can bring everyone together. The social hierarchy and racial divisions cease to exist as these young girls come to support one another and grow to accept each other and their different cultures. Most importantly, this book is a message to everyone that no one is confined to the limitations and expectations of society. If you believe in yourself, you can do anything.