Mercy Wong is no shrinking violet. Her dreams of an education are thwarted on most sides – by men who want her to do something more traditional, by women who don’t like upstarts or ladder-climbers, by all kinds of people who’d like her to keep in her “place”, which very much does not include getting an education at one of the best schools for young women.
The author admits that even a girl as spunky and boundary-pushing as Mercy Wong might not have really been able to talk her way into a girls’ school in San Francisco at the turn of the last century. Does this make Mercy any less wonderful as a character? Not at all. I prefer to think of it as alternative historical fiction. If you can do it in steampunk, or imagine a world war ended differently, I’m ok with a heroine who might be just a little stronger than reality.
Mercy’s story is about more than who she appears to be, after all. It’s about who she could become, given a chance or two or three. It’s about what happens when a natural disaster destroys everything that seems normal. And it’s about how we can all overcome obstacles to see a future that looks different. Dreams and hope keep us moving when things look grim. Mercy’s dreams are worth a read.
Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee – If you missed Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee, read it now, too!