Friday, May 13, 2016

Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

Title: Outrun the Moon
Author: Stacey Lee
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication date: May 24, 2016
Pages: 400
Source/format: ARC from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

Synopsis (from

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?

M Y  T H O U G H T S

After reading Under a Painted Sky, I knew I had to read Stacey Lee's next novel. Outrun the Moon is about a free spirited 15-year-old girl named Wong Mei-Si, also know as Mercy, who wants to get a better education for herself. Because of the laws in America at the time, Chinese children can only attend school until the 8th grade. Mercy wants to be further educated and is able to enroll into St. Clare’s School for Girls.

I definitely connected with Mercy from the beginning. She is resourceful and knows what she wants. She is also caring and is the brainchild of Mercy's Kitchen after the Great San Francisco Earthquake strikes. Mercy would definitely be a Slytherpuff. Although a rare gem, Mercy has qualities of both houses. She is cunning and ambitious yet loyal. She takes risks but doesn't run into danger without thinking about the consequences. Mercy values intelligence but not for cultivating for its own sake; she uses her intelligence to get ahead.

Based on Under a Painted Sky and Outrun the Moon, Lee is a mastermind in creating fantastic female friendships. In Under a Painted Sky, we have Andy and Sammy. In Outrun the Moon, Mercy befriends many girls despite having a rough start trying to make friends at the all white girls school. She became quick friends with Francesca and eventually became good friends with her nemesis, Elodie. The friendships between the girls are strong. Despite their many differences, they bond together after the earthquake to provide for others. It's important in time of distress to see people come together no matter what their religion, race or ethnicity is.

Lee writes historical fiction beautifully. I feel like I am right in Chinatown in 1906. Her descriptions are colorful; they are full of life. The Chinese culture in the novel is authentic which I appreciate greatly. It's nice seeing a bit of my culture and heritage painted across the many pages of Outrun the Moon. Lee also touches upon the Chinese Exclusion Act and and how Chinese people are treated during the early 1900s.

What I enjoyed reading is about how Mercy is a non-conformist. She doesn't listen to the rules about what she should do as a girl or a Chinese girl. She fights for what she wants and doesn't want to just settle down. Mercy wants to be independent and wants to travel the world. I love how she advocates for herself. She is a good role model for teens.

I highly suggest Outrun the Moon for readers who enjoy historical fiction, boarding schools and Chinese culture. Three of my favorite things are rolled into one exceptional novel. 


  1. Thank you for this great review Nicole! I was quite taken with the cover of this one and have been excited to see early reviews come in.

    I liked Under a Painted Sky but was a bit surprised by the large role faith and Christianity in particular played in that story as a plot thread and also as a formative part of the characters. Do you remember if the same could be said of this book?

    1. I don't remember a lot of strong religious scenes but there is a lot of emphasis on what a girl can or could not do. Racism is displayed throughout the whole book.