cover image Outrun the Moon

Outrun the Moon

Stacey Lee. Putnam, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-399-17541-1

Lee (Under a Painted Sky) creates another strong Chinese-American protagonist, 15-year-old Mercy Wong, in a novel set in 1906 San Francisco, where extreme discrimination against the city’s Chinese population flourishes. Mercy’s father runs a laundry, her mother is a fortune-teller, and six-year-old brother Jack is her treasure, but Mercy dreams of becoming a successful businesswoman. Characterized by her “bossy cheeks,” she bribes her way into an elite girls’ boarding school, where she poses as a wealthy heiress. Just as she is found out, the historic earthquake hits. In its aftermath, the story becomes a somewhat predictable survival tale as the schoolgirls overcome differences to work together to feed the homeless population camped out in Golden Gate Park. Suspense over the fate of Mercy’s father and romantic interest helps hold readers’ attention, but the girls’ adventures and achievements in building a community out of the diverse park residents are not as compelling as the interplay between Mercy’s life in Chinatown and at St. Clare’s School for Girls, which makes for an original exploration of a time and place not often depicted in historical fiction. Ages 12–up. Agent: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary Agency. (May)