Outrun the Moon

Outrun the Moon

Outrun the Moon

by Stacey Lee

Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Published: May 24th 2016
by Putnam Juvenile




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 bribery.

On April 18, a historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. 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. But what can one teenage girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?


Tragedy can give the pot a good shake, not only causing the good bits in us to float to the surface, but the nasty bits, too. Maybe it’s better to skim off the nasty parts and let them go.

I read Stacey Lee’s Under a Painted Sky and found it extremely entertaining and well-written, so I was ecstatic when I heard she was writing another book. Fortunately, Outrun the Moon does not disappoint.

It’s 1906 in San Francisco, and 15-year-old Mercy’s only hope of escaping the poverty of Chinatown is to be admitted to the prestigious St. Clare’s School for Girls. Mercy manages to get admitted by disguising herself as a Chinese heiress. But when a deadly earthquake wrecks havoc in San Fransisco, Mercy’s life is turned upside down.

Mercy is an extraordinary protagonist and I loved her character. She is ambitious, kind, tenacious and intelligent and it’s extremely hard not to root for her.

One of the book’s strongest elements is how it highlights the power of friendship. It’s rare to see friendship in young adult books – most authors choosing to write about romances over friendships – but Stacey Lee writes about friendship in such an honest and realistic way.

The historical details shine throughout the story. It’s obvious Stacey Lee has done quite a lot of research about the Great San Francisco Earthquake and its aftermath as well as what life in Chinatown was like, and all that research adds an authenticity to the story that makes it feel real.

Unfortunately, for one reason or another, the story just didn’t quite affect me as much emotionally as I wished it would have. But, even so, this is a historical fiction novel that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.


58 thoughts on “Outrun the Moon

  1. Wow, I’m not so much into historical fiction, but I LOVE that book cover, and the fact that it highlights friendship so much. You’re right, not so many YA books are choosing friendships over romance, and it makes me sad, a bit. I’m always happy to see a book doing things differently 🙂

    1. If you’re a fan of friendship in books, this will definitely be up your alley. Let me know what you think of it if you end up giving it a try, okay?

  2. I’m so keen to read this book! I adored Under a Painted Sky, and am excited to hear that this highlights friendship. 😀 Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Zoe!

    1. If you liked Under a Painted Sky, you’ll probably like this one too Cilla! They’re pretty similar in the way they prioritize friendships and the strongly researched historical setting. 🙂 Thank YOU for the lovely comment Cilla! <3

  3. Although it didn’t move you the way you wanted – I’m glad you still enjoyed it. I have this in my TBR pile and looking forward to starting it. Also I didn’t know this author had written other books – which would you recommend I start with? Under a Painted sky or Outrun the Moon?

    1. Thank you Sarah! I hope you end up enjoying it as much as I did. 🙂 And ahh – that’s such a hard question! The books are both very similar (they both focus on friendship and diversity), so it really just depends what time period you’re interested in more – the Wild West or the early 1900s. 🙂

  4. It’s really tough when a book is stylistically sound but just doesn’t reach that emotional part of you. I felt slightly similarly about Under the Painted Sky so while I really want to read this, I’m also skeptical about how much I’ll really, actually like it. Thanks for your honesty, Zoe, and gorgeous review!

    1. It really is tough, right? If you liked Under a Painted Sky – even despite the emotional connection not being there – I’d definitely recommend giving it a try. Thank YOU for always leaving such supportive and kind comments! <3

  5. Glad you enjoyed the read. But sorry you didn’t connect alot with all the characters. I really like the fact that friendship is given a more important position than romance

    1. Thanks Grace! I’m glad it seems like something you’d enjoy. 🙂 Let me know what you think of it if you decide to give it a try. 🙂

  6. Oh wow from the title and cover, I didn’t think this would be a historical fiction novel! But this sounds really interesting, and I’m glad you loved the protagonist! It seems like a very enlightening read, even if the emotional connection wasn’t quite there.

    1. It is definitely a very well-researched and well-written novel Charlene. I hope if you end up deciding to read it you enjoy it as much as I did! 🙂

  7. Oh, I’ve been looking forward to reading this one! So glad to hear you enjoyed this one. It sounds really good! I haven’t actually read much historical fiction lately, so this might be a good one to pick up, I think. <3 Great review Zoe!

    1. So glad this sounds intriguing Analee! I hope you end up liking it as much as I did if you decide to read it. 🙂

  8. I was expecting this book to be something of a fantasy – mostly because of the title and the cover – and I’m pleasantly surprised to see that it’s actually historical fiction instead! It’s great to hear that you love the protagonist and that friendships play a huge part in this book. I think I’ll be checking it out, thanks for your review. 🙂

    1. Thank YOU for your lovely comment Reg! I hope you end up enjoying it as much as I did if you end up giving it a try. <3

  9. Oh my gosh, an Asian protagonist? And a likable one? YES! It’s been some time since I’ve read a good YA historical fiction so I’ll definitely be adding this to my Goodreads TBR for the future. And I love that there’s a good focus and execution with the friendships in this. Thanks for sharing this lovely review, Zoe! 🙂

    1. Definitely give this a try for when you’re in the mood for a good historical fiction book Summer. 🙂 Thank you! <3

  10. The thing I love about your blog the most, Zoe, is that you SOOOOO frequently introduce me to books I’ve NEVER even stumbled upon before, and would probably never stumble upon them in my (apparently limited) GR circles. This sounds DELIGHTFUL – difficult, of course, given the subject matter – but poles apart from the usual run-of-the-mill YA plot, and the usual run-of-the-mill YA protagonist.

    And on that note, I need to get on Under A Painted Sky, too.

    Also, authors who do research thoroughly are immediately ten rungs higher on my infinite TBR ladder than others who sort of half-ass it (if you’ll excuse the term). 😀

    Amazing review, and thank you sooooo much for these brand new books (and experiences) that I come across through you, Zoe.

    1. You have no idea how happy that makes me Lexie! 🙂 You just made my day! I hope you do end up giving it a try and that you enjoy it as much as I did. <3

  11. Eeep, I do want to read this one but I’m a bit nervous because I only gave Under A Painted Sky 3-stars. GAH. I didn’t get any emotional impact from it?? So I feel like I might suffer from that here too. *nods sadly* BUT I STILL WANT TO READ IT EVENTUALLY!! I’m kind of excited that it’s about a time in history I don’t think I’ve ever read a book on! EXCITING.

    1. That was my problem with Under a Painted Sky too – the lack of emotional impact. I mean, it was a good book, but it could have been great if I was more emotionally invested in it. This one is pretty similar, but it’s still worth the read regardless. 🙂

  12. 2016 is shaping up to be a good year for historical fiction. I’ll admit, I don’t know much about the San Francisco Earthquake but I always appreciate it when an author researches into these events. I also love the fact that there is an emphasis on friendship. This has been one of my most anticipated books of the year so I can’t wait to read it. 😀

    1. I hope it lives up to your expectations Lois! The friendship and the research that goes into the historical setting definitely make it a great read. 🙂 Let me know what you think of it when you end up giving it a try, okay? <3

  13. I really enjoyed this one too! I LOOOOVED the friendships, and definitely the backdrop. It was so, so unique and refreshing, and I think the author did an amazing job with the story. I do agree, I think that I could have been just a tad more emotionally invested, but as it was, Mercy’s character was incredibly inspirational, so it’s totally worth it just for that! Fabulous review 😀

  14. I love the premise of this book and it’s great to hear that friendship is the key here! It’s great to hear that it captures the heart of Chinatown in those days. A shame to hear it was slightly disappointing though. Lovely review Zoe!

  15. I read Under the Never Sky a few months ago and overall, I enjoyed it, so I’m eager to read Outrun the Moon. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Zoe, even if you weren’t that emotionally invested, and it makes me want to pick it up soon-ish. Moreover, I hadn’t heard about the Great San Francisco Earthquake before this book (well, I don’t live in the U.S. so I have an excuse??), I’m interested to read about it. Great review! 🙂

  16. It’s a shame that you didn’t connect with it as much as you thought you would. I’ve seen a lot of rave reviews for Outrun the Moon so I’ll definitely pick this one up when I get a chance. It’s a time period that I know nothing about so I’m keen to see what it’s all about!

    1. Definitely give it a try Jenna! It’s a really great book. Let me know what you think of it if you end up giving it a try, okay?

  17. I’m really sorry the story didn’t affect you as much as it could have! I absolutely adored this story – the setting, the characters, the relationships, all of it. I also felt a bit of kinship with Mercy, since we’re both Chinese immigrants living in a European dominated society with traces of racism (more so on her time period than mine, but I still experience some). I’m glad you liked this one overall though!

    1. I have a feeling you’d really click with this one based on what you’ve said Aila. 🙂 Definitely let me know what you think if you decide to give it a try, okay?

  18. Stacey’s UNDER A PAINTED SKY was one of my favourite books of 2015 so I’m SO excited for OUTRUN THE MOON!! I live in a city that has experience some awful earthquakes in the last few years (one that resulted in a lot of casualties) so I’m really interested to see how she writes around one. Sorry the story didn’t affect you as emotionally as you wanted, but YAY for friendships! :’)) I definitely agree with you that we don’t have enough focus on friendships in YA and I’m happy this doesn’t seem to happen in here.

    Wonderful review!! <33

    1. If you liked Under a Painted Sky I’m almost positive you’ll love this one too Ella. 🙂 They’re very similar in the way they focus on friendship and have such great historical accuracy. I hope that if you do decide to give it a try you end up enjoying it as much as I did! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Brittany! And I completely agree. It doesn’t matter how great a book is, if you don’t connect to it emotionally it’s hard to love it. 🙂 Thank you! <3

  19. This sounds soooo good, especially with the Chinese protagonist! Definitely do not see enough books like these, I’m adding this straight onto the TBR, thanks for bringing it to my attention Zoe! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂 xx

    1. It is great Joy! I hope if you decide to give it a try that you enjoy it as much as I did. 🙂 Thank YOU for the lovely comment! <3

    1. If you like historical fiction and you enjoyed Under a Painted Sky you’re going to love this one Clara! 🙂 I can’t wait to see what you think of it!

  20. I want to read this book so badly now. 1 – It is Historical Fiction
    2. It isn’t set in a Western country
    3. I find books that aren’t set in Asian countries interesting. YESSS

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