“A well-balanced book that shows one young Chinese girl’s experience of immigrating with her family to California. Funny, heart-wrenching, and innovative, this book shows the difficulties of starting over in a new country in a way that a young reader is able to understand. A great book to open our eyes to the different and sometimes unseen ways people struggle and how we can make the world a better place by being more inclusive and willing to listen to each other’s stories.”
— Jessica Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, CA
Winner of the Asian / Pacific American Award for Children's Literature!
* "Many readers will recognize themselves or their neighbors in these pages." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
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?
About the Author
Kelly Yang's family immigrated to the United States from China when she was a young girl, and she grew up in California, in circumstances very similar to those of Mia Tang. She eventually left the motels and went to college at the age of 13, and is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School. Upon graduation, she gave up law to pursue her dream of writing and teaching kids writing. She is the founder of The Kelly Yang Project, a leading writing and debating program for children in Asia and the United States. She is also a columnist for the South China Morning Post and has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Atlantic. Kelly is the mother of three children and splits her time between Hong Kong and San Francisco. Please find her online at:
Asian / Pacific American Award for Children's Literature Parents' Choice Gold Medal Fiction Award Winner NPR Best Books of the Year Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year Washington Post Best Books of the Year Amazon Best Books of the Year School Library Journal Best Books of the Year Bookpage Best Books of the Year New York Public Library Best Books of the Year Chicago Public Library Best Books of the Year Top Ten Debut Novels 2018 - ALA Booklist
* "Debut author Yang weaves in autobiographical content while creating a feisty and empowered heroine. The supporting characters are rich in voice and context, with multiple villains and friends that achingly reveal life in America in the 1990s for persons of color and those living in poverty. Heavy themes, including extortion, fraud, and racism, are balanced with the naïve dreams and determination of a 10-year-old.... With bittersweet information on Chinese immigration to America added in an author's note, this book captures many important themes to explore individually or in the classroom. Many readers will recognize themselves or their neighbors in these pages." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "Mia herself is an irresistible protagonist, and it is a pleasure to see both her writing and her power grow through a series of letters that she sends to remedy injustices. The hefty and satisfying dose of wish fulfillment that closes the story feels fully earned by the specificity and detailed warmth of Yang's setup. Many young readers will see themselves in Mia and her friends.... A swiftly moving plot and a winsome protagonist make this a first purchase for any collection, especially where realistic fiction is in demand." -- School Library Journal, starred review
* "It's the details that sing in this novel, particularly the small moments that feel like everything when you're a kid...This book will help foster empathy for the immigrant experience for young readers, while for immigrant children, it is a much-needed and validating mirror....Deserving of shelf space in every classroom and library." -- Booklist, starred review
"Reminiscent of the television series Fresh Off the Boat, this title is an honest account of the ups and downs of immigrant life in America in the early 1990s, here told from a child's perspective. Basing the story on her own childhood experiences, Yang writes Mia's dreams into reality without sacrificing or minimizing the heartbreaking realities of many immigrants' hardships. Resilient Mia stumbles over and over again, but she satisfyingly picks herself right back up, often with the help of her parents, Calivista family, and friends. The question of whether Mia will win the essay contest is a big one, but whether or not the answer is yes, there is much satisfaction in this book's powerful and heart-wrenching close." -- Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books, starred review
"Front Desk is a story about the hardships of immigrant life, the perpetuation of injustice, and a sweet, kind, indomitable young girl who chooses to rise up and fight no matter how hard it gets. Kelly Yang's debut is a stunner." -- Mike Jung, author of Unidentified Suburban Object