Monday, June 25, 2018

Review: FRONT DESK by Kelly Yang

Mia Tang has a lot of secrets.

Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.

Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they've been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed.

Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language? 

It will take all of Mia's courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?

FRONT DESK is one of those stories that never leaves you. That's because it's so much more than a story - it is truth. Mia is a sweet and fun fifth-grader with a strong love for her family, a healthy streak of independence, and a beautiful dream of equality.

Why does a girl so young have that last trait? Because she and her family are immigrants, trying hard to stay afloat in America. Kelly Yang does a fantastic job of balancing dark and light - exploring some reasons people choose to immigrate to America and the extreme hardships many immigrants face once they get here. Yang does not sugar coat the hard work, the financial desperation, or the widespread racism Mia and some of friends encounter. However, as Mia learns to manage a motel, solves a mystery, and manages to protect her friends, Mia grows in strength rather than let her hardships push her down.

While it deals with heavy and painful issues, FRONT DESK is also laugh-out-loud funny and features characters you can't help but love. This book has easily earned its place on my list of top-ten, most-recommended, middle-grade books!


  1. I need to read this one! It looks fantastic!

  2. I just put a hold on this at my library--it still doesn't have it's own copy! Thankfully, my library shares with many other local ones.


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