Book Review: Outrun the Moon

Posted May 23, 2016 by Kara in book review, Kara / 2 Comments

Book Review: Outrun the MoonOutrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on May 24th 2016
Genres: young adult, historical
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

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 teenaged girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?

I haven’t read many books this year. I’ve tried to keep up with things, but I’ve had SO much work, and I fell behind on my Goodreads goal sometime in February. The year hadn’t even really got started before I crapped out. Now I’m playing catch-up, but I’ve started things off with this FANTASTIC book, and I really just need to impress upon you how much you should be reading Outrun the Moon as soon as it comes out. I have never been much of a historical reader, but I have read at least THREE historical books this year that have been absolutely fabulous, and so far this has been my favorite.

I decided to pick this one, obviously because of the Chinatown setting. I will read anything and everything with Asian characters or settings, because I am just fascinated and love learning about the culture and geography so much. I’ve been lucky enough to visit two Chinatowns (Philly and NYC) but San Francisco is most definitely on the top of my list because of its rich cultural heritage and history.

Outrun the Moon takes place in San Fran Chinatown 1906 days before, during, and after the major earthquake and fires that hit the city. The protagonist is Mercy Wong, and she lives in Chinatown with her mother, who is a fortune teller, and her father, who works at a dry cleaners/laundry. 1906 San Francisco is a very racist place, and a Chinese girl going to an all white girls’ school in the rich part of the city is unheard of. But Mercy has higher aspirations, and plots a way to get herself there. The synopsis covers much of the novel, and as most historical books are, this one is about the characters, and the snapshot of life they go through that the author has chosen to write about.

But most of all, I just really love what this book made me feel. It took me a little bit of time to get attached to the characters, but about one-third of the way into the book I was completely invested and adored all the characters, even the ones that were a little hard to love. This book is not for the faint of heart. There is death, destruction, and devastation, but there is also hope, redemption, and recovery. My emotions ran the gamut of the ENTIRE spectrum, and the author completely broke my heart before piecing it back together again. It’s important for me to note just how emotional this book made me–like sobbing-in-the fetal-position emotional.

The writing is also really, really great. Outrun the Moon is incredibly quotable, but also, it’s just really great at setting the scene and creating the atmospheric sense of place a book like this really needs. I’ve never felt more like I was standing right there next to the main character like I did while reading this novel. It’s moderately paced, but it’s perfect for the storytelling and letting you get to know the characters, their motivations, and what makes them who they are. By the time the book closed, the characters felt like old friends. And I didn’t want them to go away and leave me alone.

My most favorite part of Outrun the Moon though were all the strong women, the girl power, and the ladies working together towards a common goal. It made me feel really, REALLY good. I just got this tingly feeling all throughout me because how often is it that girls work together and work through their problems? This is a book that you can hand to your daughter (or son) and feel good about doing so. Man, if I had a kid, as soon as she hit this reading level I would be thrusting this book into her hands. That’s how good it was. I wish I could read it all over again for the first time. And I’m mad that I can’t.


2 responses to “Book Review: Outrun the Moon

  1. Ali

    I LOVE the cover of this book! It’s gorgeous. I didn’t realize this took place in SF’s Chinatown. I’m from California, so I’ve been there a number of times, and I think it’d be SO INTERESTING to read a book that takes place there over 100 years ago. I’m totally going to throw this one on my TBR thanks to your fantastic review! YAY! New book to read! Thanks for convincing me (:

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