Stacey Lee pens an endearing story of one teen’s determination to survive and succeed amid disaster.
Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong has high hopes of having her own herbal tea business someday—but the year is 1906, and education available to Chinese-American girls is less than stellar. Using her suave and shrewd ruses, Mercy finagles a business proposition with Mr. Du Lac, the president of the elite St. Clare’s School for Girls. Du Lac offers Mercy a three-month trial period with an agreement that she assumes the role of a Chinese heiress. Unfortunately, life at St. Clare’s is more difficult than Mercy expects, with one grueling situation rolling into the next. While serving a punishment, Mercy has no idea that her life is about to change, when an earthquake devastates much of her beloved Chinatown.
Featuring Mercy as raconteur, Outrun the Moon surrounds its principal character with a complex cast designed to develop her dynamic role. Lee’s characters reflect two distinct racial groups: the marginalized and the affluent. Utilizing the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Lee brings the survivors of these groups together to highlight that which cannot be changed by race or class, those universal elements of humanity that connect us all.
A poignant combination of fact and fiction, Outrun the Moon is a welcome addition to American immigrant historical fiction, punctuated with Mercy’s snarky and often uproariously funny comments, as well as plenty of thought-provoking maxims and proverbs—all leading up to compassion for others.