Outrun the Moon
Stacey Lee's OUTRUN THE MOON places the reader in San Francisco, 1906, where they meet Mercy Wong. Mercy has had to face inescapable discrimination and poverty in the depths of Chinatown, but she is determined to continue her education at the prestigious St. Clare's School for Girls. The only problem is that once she is admitted, the historic San Francisco earthquake destroys Mercy's home and school. Now Mercy's problems don't only consist of fighting against the discrimination but restoring the structure of the surrounding society and city.
“OUTRUN THE MOON is a perfect book for anyone who enjoys a great historical fiction with not only a deeply rooted social issue but a strong lead as well.”
Lee does an amazing job of developing not only the character of Mercy but the minor characters as well. Mercy is portrayed as a very determined and courageous character, but society sees her as a disgrace. Lee discussed the appearance of cheeks as something society sees as a symbol of bossiness, which at the time was an unfavorable characteristic for girls. Yet, Mercy is very proud of her appearance and when anyone criticizes her for her cheeks she takes the insult as a compliment. This minor detail revealed how Mercy was ahead of her time because even today many girls get caught up in what society sees when really they should embrace not only their appearances, but their interests, as well.
When the earthquake hits, Mercy struggles not only to push through the loss of her city but also the loss of many of those around her. Mercy's personality, as well as the personalities of many minor characters begin to develop as the story continues. In the beginning, Mercy is shown with her childhood friend, Tom, flying balloons together where Mercy is unable to listen to the instructions given to her. Later in the book, she is shown caring for her elders in times of emergency and chaos. These scenes reflect the maturity of her character --- of course, she still retains much of her rebelliousness, but when the people surrounding her need help, Mercy is always there to step up and take the lead. She remains a very inspiring character who displays major determination and courage even during times of historic disaster.
OUTRUN THE MOON is a perfect book for anyone who enjoys a great historical fiction with not only a deeply rooted social issue but a strong lead as well. Not only does the story revolve around a historic event, but it features one that is not widely discussed. Many of us in the United States have at least heard of the disastrous earthquake in San Francisco, but it is not a tragedy that is often mentioned in schools or in our daily lives. Stacey Lee was able to create a novel that showed the resilience of a society in the face of disaster. Lee did an amazing job showing how, although an earthquake can destroy a city and families, it can also help bring a community together in times of emergency. By discussing discrimination against the Chinese --- again, something that is not widely discussed in society and literature --- Lee was able to tie in the change by showing how many characters stopped seeing society solely based on race and instead tried to push their differences aside to help those in need.
Stacey Lee's OUTRUN THE MOON is a heartwarming story about the determination of not only a girl, but a society, through the difficulties and casualties of an environmental disaster. It is a story that all readers will love and be inspired by.
Reviewed by Harleen K., Teen Board Member on May 24, 2016