A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Stacey Lee's Outrun the Moon is a novel set in San Francisco just before and after the city is devastated by the famous 1906 earthquake. Mercy Wong, a Chinese American teen living with her family in Chinatown, uses a combination of cunning and bribery to gain admittance to the best girls' school in the city -- a school that's never had a student who wasn't privileged and white. The discrimination against Asians that's rampant in the city follows her to the school, but the earthquake and its aftermath forever change the relationship between Mercy and her classmates and how they view race and class distinctions. Descriptions of deaths during the earthquake and the fires and looting that follow are sometimes intense but not overly graphic. There are racial slurs such as "Mongols" and "ching-chong." As in her critically acclaimed first novel, Under a Painted Sky, Lee has created characters who are easily relatable to teens living more than a century later.
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What's the story?
In OUTRUN THE MOON, 15-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to get the best education available to girls in 1906 San Francisco -- a seemingly impossible dream when you live in Chinatown and are the daughter of a impoverished laundry owner and a fortune teller. Mercy sets her sights on St. Clare's School for Girls, which prides itself on admitting only white young ladies from the best families. She crafts a plan -- part fast-talking and part bribery -- and secures a spot at the school and a new identity as an heiress from mainland China. While a few girls befriend her, she struggles to fit in and must constantly be on her guard lest her true identity be discovered. But after an earthquake destroys their school, it's Mercy who steps up and and takes charge of her frightened classmates as they camp in a city park and wait for help to arrive.
Is it any good?
This compelling story, set against the catastrophic 1906 San Francisco earthquake and its spirited stereotype-busting Chinese American heroine should prove irresistible to readers. While the terror and destruction of the earthquake provide a dramatic backdrop, the core of the story is the evolving friendship between Mercy and her classmates and how they learn to see both themselves and the people in the world around them beyond surface appearances.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about prejudice. What kinds of prejudice do you see in your school or community? Do you think it’s possible for attitudes to change so that everyone is treated equally?
Mercy and her friends have no way to contact their families after the earthquake. If you couldn't use your cell phone or the internet after a natural disaster, how would you reconnect with your family and friends?
Mercy schemes to get a place at St. Clare's and then lies when she becomes a student. If being deceptive would allow you to better yourself and the life of your family, would you do it?
- Author: Stacey Lee
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
- Publication date: June 8, 2016
- Number of pages: 391
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: April 20, 2020
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For kids who love Asian stories and historical fiction
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