The Sunday Street Team is hosted by Nori at Read Write Love 28, and today I’ll be reviewing this simply stunning work, Outrun the Moon. I don’t know guys, the moment I closed this book, I wanted to start reading it all over again. Mercy was a main character that I aspire to be like, and I JUST HAD SO MANY EMOTIONS WHILE READING, OKAY? So definitely pick this one up, no matter your age or preferred genre. Because I bet that you won’t regret it.
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, a 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. Though fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the army to bring help—she still has the “bossy” cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenage girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?
Segregation: it’s a word that we see throughout history books, and yet sometimes don’t realize that it still happens today. Outrun the Moon is about a girl named Mercy, a “bossy” girl with a strong will who changes the course of her life using her intelligence and determination. She battles not only the discrimination of being a girl during this time period of 1906, but also racism, as Chinese people weren’t exactly treated well.
“But how do I explain that to white ghosts, we are animals, which is why they’ve caged us in twelve rickety blocks. We are something to be ogled, lower even than black ghosts.”
I absolutely adored her character and reading through her narrative. She’s resolute in her goals and will do whatever she can to accomplish them; at the same time, her goals ultimately serve to benefit her family and to get them a better life. Mercy is compassionate, selfless, and a character that you can’t help falling in love with. The first half of the book is about her getting into the St. Clare’s School for Girls and the things she has to deal with, once there. Mercy meets a group of girls that are wonderfully written, with their own unique personality. They may straight-up dislike her, or understand her to a point, or sympathize with her. It was really intriguing to see the dynamics between the school girls, and how different people treat others that are not like them. It’s easy to imagine that treating others based on their skin color or eyes can happen in a classroom in 1906, but easier to forget that these things still happen in 2016.
“But what could a mere girl, a Chinese girl no less, do?”
The latter half of the book was the really moving, emotional part (for me at least). An earthquake hits San Francisco, and I’m glad to say the author does not hold back on this part. People die and the struggles that the characters face are written to painfully real that you can’t help but get moved. Mercy and some of the girls from the school end up living at a park while waiting for their parents – or searching for them. This aspect of the book was really heartbreaking, yet also fundamental in creating a shift to the girls’ relationship. Even though it took a disaster to make it happen, they start to look past their prejudices and work together to survive.
“Sweet Angels of Mercy, the world has broken apart.”
Lee writes with an easy-to-read tone that matches with Mercy’s straightforward character. It was also wonderful to read about Chinatown during the time, and the bits and pieces that make it so special. The small details about Chinese culture and the way they were treated by other ethnicities were welcome additions that made the world easy to envision – and a bit eye-opening at times. The earthquake provided for bittersweet moments, but I’m happy to report that the ending will just warm your heart up. I feel like I rode an emotional roller coaster while reading this book. Frustration, empathy, heartbreak, joy, and an absolute, overwhelming feeling of love were just a bit of the emotions that touched me when reading.
“I’m struck by the impermanence of it all. You expect certain things to always be there, like the bakery on the corner, or the boy you grew up with. But when the very ground can eat you alive without warning, what’s to say the ocean won’t dry up? Or the stars won’t suddenly shut off? Nothing is forever.”
Hope: it’s the word that comes to mind while I was reading this book, and afterwards. It leaves readers with a sense of all-encompassing hope for the future. From the realistic portrayals of history to the gritty main character who paves her own way in life, Outrun the Moon is a book that will touch the hearts of all readers.
Get ready for three exciting giveaways! Click to get directed to them.