May 13, 2016

The Power of Mercy • Outrun the Moon

Outrun the Moon book coverLee's debut novel Under a Painted Sky was an incredible book. Thanks to the lovely Ms. Lee and her publisher, I got an early copy of her second novel, Outrun the Moon. I was patient for about a month before I decided to throw all reading schedules out the window and read it, even though it was six months before publication date at the time. And friends, it was so, so, so worth it. Outrun the Moon is another marvelous story from Ms. Lee!

I don't even know where to begin when talking about Outrun the Moon. In order to paint a clearer picture of what I loved about Mercy's story, I thought it'd be best to share five of the reasons you need to get your hands on a copy of this one as soon as it's out next week.

ONE | Mercy Wong - Oh, you guys, Mercy is a delight to read about! I admired her determination to set out on a path that would result in a better future for her family. Even when things got difficult, even when she felt overwhelmed by her circumstances, she held fast to her dreams. She also stood her ground when it came to her culture and race, and I deeply admired that. I loved her for her brains, her loyalty, her kindness and her deep strength in the face of heartbreaking crisis.

TWO | Secondary characters - I really enjoyed the rest of the ensemble Lee put together. Mercy's family, with her hard-working father, loving mother and sweet younger brother. Her best friend Tom, and his desire to be up in the air. The people from Chinatown, her rivals, friends and those demanding respect. The girls of St. Clare's, her friends, rivals, teachers. The refugees she comes to know after the earthquake. While most of these characters are simply seen in relation to Mercy, they still felt real. They still genuinely became people I cared about, particularly her friends from St. Clare's.

THREE | Chinese culture - Lee integrates Chinese culture in a way that feels natural to the tale and authentic to the characters. Readers encounter traditional practices, such as the service of tea, encountering a council of men who decide things for Chinatown, or even the practice of alternative medicine. Like in her debut novel, Chinese proverbs also make an appearance in the narrative, timed perfectly with every situation Mercy faces. It's also interesting to see the portrayal of the prejudice against the Chinese, and how Mercy fights hard to be seen as an equal citizen of the US. It's a sad reality, but it's also the truth, and Lee shows that fight, and the gradual acceptance well.

FOUR | Historical depiction - It was hard to read about the portrayal of prejudice, which I've mentioned above. But it was absolutely heartbreaking to read about the massive earthquake that devastated San Francisco, and the subsequent fires, building collapses and looting that occurred. I felt the trauma of the moment as keenly as if I had been there myself, and I also felt the desperation and lack of hope that permeated the survivors. Lee's depiction feels truthful. It's a remarkable reading experience of both heartbreak and hope.

FIVE | Readability - It's amazing how quickly this novel reads. It's a bit on the lengthier side, but the pages just fly by as the reader gets more invested in Mercy's story. The readability of this tale is a true testament to Lee's ability to write a story that is not only educational, but also entertaining. It'll grab you right from the very first chapter, and it'll refuse to let you go until you hit the very last page. It's one of those stories that can be read in one sitting, if that possibility exists for you.

Well, there you have it, five reasons that you, my friends, should grab a copy of Outrun the Moon. I hope these things convince you to give Mercy's story a try, and I hope you find yourself fascinated by the tragedy and hope that coexist in her tale. I really liked Outrun the Moon, and I feel like plenty of you will too!

Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers | Publication Date: May 24, 2016
Source: ARC from the publisher (Thanks!)

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 teenager do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?


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