A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees
Genre – Historical Fiction
Summary – 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, a 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. 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?
Initial Thoughts – This book covers so many important issues, especially the racism and sexism of the past. I learned so much from this book about discrimination and the horror of the earthquake in San Francisco.
Plot – ★★★★★ The plot is pushed forward again and again by Mercy’s bravery. She refuses to be cheated from a good education and a happy future just because of her skin color and gender. When tragedy strikes, she gets up and faces it head on. Her bravery was infectious.
Characters – ★★★★★ Mercy isn’t afraid to do what’s necessary to gain her education, even if it’s slightly illegal. The friends that she gains along the way captured my heart, especially Francesca.
Story world – ★★★★★ Lee clearly did her research while writing this novel. On every page, there was a little mention of culture that taught me so much without being overwhelming or info dumping. I felt truly connected to Mercy’s world.
Style – ★★★★★ The style of this novel just might be my favorite part. Lee has a talent for creating beautiful metaphors that steal your breath away.
Closing Thoughts – This might be one of my favorite books. Though I don’t often venture into the historical fiction genre, Lee always manages to capture my attention with her novels.
Recommendation – Recommended for lovers of breaking down expectations, impossible bravery, and going back into time.