In 1906, San Francisco, fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to have a successful future in business and help her family. She has read and memorized a business book by a strong female Texas cattle rancher, and applies the business principles to her life. Mercy talks her way into an exclusive girls boarding school where she is ostracized to some degree. She is Chinese, low-class, from Chinatown in a time of ethnic segregation. She is at the boarding school when the devastating earthquake hits. The earthquake and subsequent fires destroy Chinatown and Mercy learns that her mother and little brother are dead. Mercy organizes the girls and guides them to the park and begins to address the immediate needs of food and shelter. As the park fills with survivors, Mercy works to feed the masses.
The author excels in describing the different ethnic neighborhoods and the close-minded attitudes of San Francisco residents. These ethnic neighborhoods still exist today in San Francisco. The writing is solid, fast-paced, and strewn with likeable characters. The supporting characters are not just footnotes but vividly portrayed. The author explains the creative license she took in writing Mercy’s story in the ending Author’s Note. Background knowledge of San Francisco and the 1906 earthquake is helpful but not necessary. Extremely well-written, this historical fiction should be well received by many students. Highly recommend.
eGalley review Publication date 5.24.16