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Reviewed by:
  • Front Desk by Kelly Yang
  • Melanie Kirkwood
Yang, Kelly Front Desk. Levine/Scholastic, 2018 [304p]
ISBN 978-1-338-15779-6 $16.99
Reviewed from galleys R* Gr. 4-7

At ten years old, Mia Tang surprisingly becomes the front desk manager of a hotel when her family takes on the job of running the Calivista Motel, owned by the mean and money-hungry Mr. Yao. Now responsible for checking people in, balancing the motel ledgers, and ensuring that all guests are comfy and content, Mia rises to the challenge. Soon the Tangs allow the Calivista to become a secret hub for Chinese immigrants who are down on their luck and defy the warnings of Mr. Yao to serve Black people. With everything going on at the motel, Mia takes a chance on her writing and secretly enters an essay contest offering the winner ownership of a motel in Vermont. 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. [End Page 408]



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