Last night I finished Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee & I absolutely loved it. I learnt a lot & my emotions were pulled from pillar to post. Please know this write up will include a lot of spoilers, so don’t read it unless you’ve read the book!
A main character in a book doesn’t always have to be likeable, but when presented with characters like Mercy I’m left feeling like I don’t want to ever read a book where I don’t love the main character as much as I love Mercy. She reminded me of a very good friend of mine & I think that really made me feel connected to her. She was strong & so, so loving, but also such a good person with great ambitions. I respected her from the very start & had fallen in love by the end. I wish I had someone like her in my life.
I also absolutely loved her name, and the Chinese ‘version‘ of it – ever since I was a child, since I learnt about the history of how Chinese girls have been treated, I’ve always wanted to adopt from China, and I think if I ever do I will name her Mercy because it feels very, very fitting.
The other characters were fabulous as well & all complimented each other in the right ways – her parents were written so well & weren’t just presented as background characters… they mattered & were their own characters. Her little brother was the sweetest little thing & I just wanted to cuddle him – especially with his new tooth growing through. Elodie drove me crazy, for all the obvious reasons & I have to admit that she felt a little stereotypical – I’ve experienced characters like her before & I kind of knew what part her character would play in the story (although I was shocked by her mother’s part).
I fell in love with all of the girls at St Clare’s (well, the ones that were friends with Mercy) during the washing scene! I had a huge grin on my face & I desperately wanted to be there with them – even if they were washing their clothes by hand. Throughout the whole scene I was desperate for Mercy to tell her friends the truth about her, I was worried that, when they did find out the truth, that they would hate her for it; but Stacey Lee surprised me & wrote something that seemed far more real to me… especially in the circumstances. Ohhh, and Tom. Well he was just lovely, wasn’t he?! I never thought I’d want to date someone who flies a hot air balloon!!
As for the actual plot of the book, it totally pulled me in & trapped me. Stacey Lee wrote about the attitude toward Asians during this time period with such honesty that it broke my heart – it was done with so much honesty that it could only have been written by someone who has experienced that type of discrimination, & it breaks my heart that Stacey may have dealt with that in her life. The relationships between the difference ethnicities/races was also written really well, & again was written in a way that made it obvious that it was written by someone who understands that kind of discrimination. The writing was beautiful, but also heart-breaking.
There were scenes throughout the book that really shone with their honesty, and one was the scene that involved the blind black man being beaten… I cried so much! I’m going to keep saying this but, it was written so honestly that it hurt me to read it… white people can be so dumb. The scene added a lot to the book & reinforced the time period. I also appreciated that, to start with, Headmistress Crouch’s attitude toward Mercy didn’t change after the earthquake, because it highlighted how stubborn some people can be in their stupid beliefs. Marcus was an absolute brute & I hated him with a passion… when I thought Francesca was going to be stuck with him, so much anger coursed through my veins. I know there are less people in the world like Marcus now, but I know they still exist & it disgusts me. Stacey Lee is brilliant at writing characters to hate.
Finally, one line that really stayed with me because of its honesty was; “I would like nothing more than to lash out at the world the way she can, but doing so would only feed into the notions that Chinese people are barbarians.” It spoke very loudly to me.
I usually only read the blurb or synopsis of a book once, & it’s usually ages before I actually read the book, so when the earthquake struck I was totally taken by surprise. I was so sucked into the washing scene, laughing and smiling along with the girls, that when it happened I felt like a rug had been pulled out from under me. I remember my heart racing because I was panicking & I was so desperate for everyone to have survived… of course, not all of them could survive in order to stick with the honesty of this book, but it still made me sad.
When Mercy discovered that her mother & brother were dead, I cried again. How is someone supposed to come back from that? I cried again when Mercy thought her father had died as well. In my notes I wrote “If Stacey Lee hadn’t already broken my heart, Ba’s death would have done it. I was praying for one last string of hope for Mercy & it’s gone. How can someone ever recover from that?” and that perfectly sums up how I felt during that part of the book.
Another scene that made me cry buckets was when Mercy made her speech at the Food for Forty-Four meal. It was written so beautifully, & with so much love, & I really wish I could experience that type of gathering. There is so much hate in this world & if people could put their differences aside like they did during that scene, the world would be a much better place. I could also hear Mercy saying it in my mind. All of the scenes based around the meal were so heart-warming & it really helped to pull the whole story together.
I cried again at the end of the book… when Tom & Ba both appeared my heart leapt for joy & I cried with happiness for Mercy. In my notes I wrote “Mercy has been shown Mercy” and that sums that scene up perfectly. After I read the scene when Mercy returned to camp with Tom & her Ba I wrote this; “Francesca is back & the others haven’t left! Stacey Lee literally broke my heart & stole all hope from me but then gave me it all back, tenfold. I’m crying so much, imagining this scene & the joy and happiness Mercy must feel. Oh Stacey Lee, you are really toying with my emotions.“
I finished this book filled with so much emotion, including closure. I feel like Stacey Lee wrote the perfect ending, and for once I don’t feel like I need more to saturate the hunger this book awoke in me; Stacey Lee left me feeling content & complete. Stacey Lee has given me a book that I will love forever.
Stacey Lee is also on Twitter, so give her a follow!