Friday, January 22, 2016

Outrun the Moon

Outrun the Moon

Stacey Lee

Publication date May 24, 2016

I have often wondered if we should remove the historical fiction section in our teen department and instead shelve these books with fiction. I love YA historical fiction but I find that many of our teen patrons pass by this genre on their way to the fantasy or sci-fi shelves. One exception is Stacey Lee's book, Under a Painted Sky. It's shelved in historical fiction and it has circulated really well. 

I recently emailed the author and she was gracious enough to send me an advance reader's copy of her next book, Outrun the Moon.

Here is a description of the book from the Penguin Random House:
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 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, an historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the Army to bring help. Fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, yet Mercy still has the ‘bossy’ cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenaged girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?

I enjoyed this book. Once again Stacey Lee has created a strong (you could even say headstrong) female character. Mercy Wong is smart, funny, business-savvy, and compassionate. Outrun the Moon made me laugh, cry, and cheer. I can't wait to share this book with my teen patrons, especially the younger teen girls who tell me that they are looking for exciting books with a little romance and a female protagonist.

Outrun the Moon would be a good selection for a book discussion. Topics that can be discussed include the treatment of and attitude toward immigrants, then and now.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

I completed the YALSA Morris Finalist Challenge! The final book I read was

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
written by Stephanie Oakes

The polygamous Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust. And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too. Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it's clear that Minnow knows something -- but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of -- if she's willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past. Description provided by publisher

Like Conviction, the last Morris Award finalist I read, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly also explores the main character's beliefs. But unlike the main character in Conviction, Minnow doesn't seem to be struggling with her faith. It seems pretty clear that Minnow doesn't buy into the Kevinian cult's beliefs and her struggles are how to live within a secluded community where women are kept illiterate and only valued for childbearing and rearing. Her only contact outside the cult is Jude, a boy who lives in the woods with his father and is almost as ignorant of the real world as Minnow is. After a horrific encounter with the Prophet, Minnow runs off and eventually ends up in a juvenile detention center. There she learns how to have faith in herself. 

This book is based on the Brothers Grimm's fariy tale,The Handless Maiden.