After reviewing Under a Painted Sky, my favorite young adult novel from 2015, I requested the galley of Stacey Lee's second book from her publisher. Outrun the Moon exceeded my high expectations, from the heart-pounding runaway hot air balloon opening to the bittersweet chapters about the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.
Mercy (Wong Mei-Si) is the most delightfully headstrong girl since Anne of Green Gables (1908). Mercy is neither an orphan nor a redhead, but she faces greater social stigma as a 16-year-old feminist in 1906 Chinatown. Although Mercy was born in San Francisco and speaks without an accent, white people treat her like a foreigner with racist disdain and hostile mistrust. She dreams of a better life for her sickly younger brother than toiling sixteen-hour days at their father's laundromat.
"Sometimes, when someone tells me I can't do something, it makes me want to do it more. Ma blames it on my bossy cheeks," says Mercy in Confession.
Her fortune-teller mother supports her daughter's aspirations, "You cannot control the wind, but you can control the sails."
|Present day Chinatown. Photo by my teenage daughter from our recent visit to San Francisco.|
|Author Stacey Lee|
Mercy struggles to fit in until the big Earthquake of 1906 demolishes San Francisco and literally levels the playing field. Her pragmatic ingenuity and selfless bravery might save them all, but only if she can work with her arch nemesis, a popular Franco American girl with an agenda of her own. Like Under the Painted the Sky, there is a touch of romance, but the central relationships are friendships among girls from diverse backgrounds. Apparently, bad puns in the face of misfortune can overcome class barriers.
|Photo of the Golden Gate Bridge and me by my daughter.|
Outrun the Moon is an inspiring survival story which transcends race, gender and time.
Reviewer's Disclosure: I requested the galley from Putnam, Penguin in return for an honest review. Outrun the Moon will be released on May 24, 2016 in North America and in the UK. Author photo is Stacey's profile image on twitter. San Francisco photos are by my teenage daughter.
Mom Watch: Happy Mother's Day to my mom and to all moms reading this blog!
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