Mercy Wong is determined to break free of the poverty of San Francisco's Chinatown, but in 1906 her options are limited. Her best chance is an education at the prestigious St. Clare's School for Girls. Using ingenuity and just a little bribery, she gains admittance and faces off against her wealthy classmates - but when the great San Francisco earthquake strikes, it will take all of her wits to keep her friends safe and reunite with her family.
From the author of the critically acclaimed Under a Painted Sky, an unforgettable story of determination set against a backdrop of devastating tragedy. Perfect for fans of Code Name Verity.
Winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Young Adult Winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature
San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty of 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 a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.
On April 18, a historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. Now she’s forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. 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—she still has the “bossy” cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenage girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?
Stacey Lee masterfully crafts another remarkable novel set against a unique historical backdrop. Strong-willed Mercy Wong leads a cast of diverse characters in this extraordinary tale of survival.
About the Author
Stacey Lee is a fourth-generation Chinese American with roots in San Francisco Chinatown. She has lots of experience with earthquakes, having skinned her knees more times than she wants to remember diving under tables. She is the critically acclaimed author of the novels Under a Painted Sky and Outrun the Moon, the winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction. Stacey was also a founding member of We Need Diverse Books. Born in Southern California, she graduated from UCLA and then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. She lives with her family outside San Francisco. You can visit Stacey at staceyhlee.com. Or follow her on Twitter @staceyleeauthor.
* "Full of beautiful turns of phrase, lessons in Chinese customs and superstitions, and a refreshing protagonist representing intersectional diversity, this is a must-read for followers of historical fiction . . . . powerful, evocative, and thought-provoking."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Lee creates characters full of depth and nuance that seem historically accurate but still relatable to today’s teens. . . . . A diverse, engaging historical fiction that should not be missed.”—School Library Journal
“Mercy’s narrative is flecked with witty puns, pithy wisdom from her fortune-telling mother, aphorisms from her favorite business book, and her obsession with bad-luck number four, all of which provide meaningful insight into both her character and her culture. While slipping in plenty of meaty historical context, particularly about the discrimination facing Chinese immigrants at the time, Lee tells a resoundingly warmhearted story about community arising amidst earth-shattering disaster.”—Booklist “Mercy is a splendid narrator; her grit and humor makes the steady flow of racism she encounters even more jarring. Historical fiction fans are in for a real treat.”—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books “Lee brings an awareness of a (perhaps) lesser known time, place, and immigration issue. Mercy has one adventure after another; dramatic situations that she creates by leaping right into action. Despite her impulsiveness, Mercy is a very believable heroine who is sure to inspire readers to keep following their dreams.”—VOYA
“[A]n original exploration of a time and place not often depicted in historical fiction.”—Publishers Weekly
“Stacey Lee is an incredible voice in historical fiction, but she may have outdone even herself in her recent Outrun the Moon.”—Bustle.com
"Stacey Lee’s second novel weaves in compelling topics including class inequality, fall-out from natural disaster, and the drive of a 'bossy girl.' A historical fiction that features a fierce female protagonist."—TeenVogue.com
“Immersive and riveting. Mercy Wong had my heart from page one.”—Sabaa Tahir, New York Times bestselling author of An Ember in the Ashes
“A fantastic read! Emotional, entertaining, and bewitching as it brings to life San Francisco in 1906.”—Cynthia Kadohata, author of the Newbery Award-winning Kira-Kira and the National Book Award-winning The Thing About Luck