A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The author -- a fourth-generation Californian with roots in San Francisco’s Chinatown -- gives readers a vivid window into the daily life of early 20th-century Chinatown, from the food prepared by families to numerology, Chinese medicine, and the Benevolent Society that holds sway over the community's business life.
In perilous circumstances, differences in race or class become meaningless as everyone learns to work together. Leadership is not about having the right background or skin color -- it's all about character.
Positive Role Models
Mercy is feisty, tough, and confident that her intelligence and street smarts can open the doors necessary to make her dreams come true. That said, she’s not above using lies and bribery to help swing open those doors.
Violence & Scariness
Characters and their families are killed in the earthquake, a man is beaten, and looters are shot by the Army. The headmistress punishes Mercy by striking her with a ruler so hard that it breaks.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There’s one kiss. It’s noted that each of a classmate’s parents is having an affair.
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Characters use racist words such as "ching-chong," "Chinagirl," "monkeys," and "Mongols."
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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.
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.
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Our Editors Recommend
Books with Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander Characters
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