Front Desk

Front Desk

Book - 2018
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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?
Publisher: New York, NY : Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic Inc., 2018.
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781338157796
Branch Call Number: j F YANG K
Characteristics: 286, 12 unnumbered pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

Mia is courageous, smart, kind, and full of grand ideas! She immigrated to the US with her parents from China and life has been hard. The family lives in and manages the Calivista Motel for meager wages. Many of her friends and family members are struggling. How can Mia help the people she cares ... Read More »

Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (Children's)

May we all possess the courage, determination, and audacity that young Mia has to help herself and her immigrant parents.

From the critics

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Jul 08, 2019

I enjoyed this novel immensely. As a child of immigrants, I can relate to how much sacrifice and suffering families have to endure, particularly in the 80s and 90s. Some things actually hit really close to home. This books deals with tough topics, but in a way a kid can understand without speaking down on them. Thank you, for having diverse books. I wish I had this when I was a kid. #PACL2019

Jun 06, 2019

A great read! Mia is a strong, independent, creative, and determined young lady. The author shows you her fears and how she deals with obstacles at school, in her community, and at her 'work' at the hotel her parents run. She truly persists and while the book doesn't have exactly the happy ending you might be expecting, it's a very satisfying one. #PACL2019

May 23, 2019

This book is perfect from head to toe. This is a heart-warming story that teaches children (and is a wonderful refresher to adults) on immigration, the American Dream and how to fight racism. Audiobook for this one is top notch and the narrator does an amazing job evoking all the important emotion needed for this very intelligent and gentle story.

May 15, 2019

A smart, funny, and very moving story about Mia, a young girl helping her Chinese immigrant parents manage a hotel in early 90s California. I couldn't put this down - I sat down intending to read a couple of chapters and looked up 200 pages later.

IndyPL_JosephL Feb 28, 2019

A roller coaster of thoughts, feelings, and hard truths regarding the nature of both exclusion and inclusion within American society. Told through the perspective of a young girl whose family has only recently immigrated to America from China, we are given a tale that is one part heartwarming and two parts distressing. Through Mia, we see racial prejudiced, violence, and abuse toward any many kinds directed at people of varying colors. Hard to swallow at times, the book talks so frankly in some cases that it sounds impossible. Yet, as the author mentions in her afterward, many of the things Mia and her family go through are grounded in her own struggles and experiences, making it something that needs to be read no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

Chapel_Hill_MarthaW Jan 31, 2019

I really enjoyed this story -- based in large part on the author's own childhood experiences -- of Chinese immigrants in Southern California in the early 1990s. It strikes the perfect of illustrating the crazy language and cultural barriers facing Asian immigrants to the US, as well as the casual racism they encounter on a daily basis, without ever becoming too much of a downer -- there's a lot of kid appeal here, and you'll find yourself really rooting for the protagonist. I liked this one a lot, and was really pleased it got some love at the ALA Youth Media Awards this week.

IndyPL_ShellieR Jan 23, 2019

It was hard to watch the struggles of this kid and her family and friends but it's impossible not to care about them. It's a book that talks about important things in a totally organic way and that is a rare treat - like tasty health food!

Jan 10, 2019

Front Desk is a sweet, simple, heartfelt middle-grade novel -- on the surface. It also touches on insecurities of many kinds (including financial and social), prejudice, violence, predatory lending practices, and plenty of other subjects that might otherwise be considered "grown-up stuff" only.

It has such a strong family at its core, though, that even these hard topics are dealt with gracefully and in age-appropriate ways. There are powerful positive messages, too, about looking out for each other, sharing what we've got, and not judging based on appearances.

But more than that, it has a great story about a kid named Mia who is SO EXCITED to be running a motel and helping out her family. It's awesome.

Give to any middle grade kid (or adult!) who wants to see what it's REALLY like to run a motel...and how believing the best of people leads to great things.

JCLShannonG Jan 08, 2019

I was impressed with how the author expertly portrayed racism, poverty, and immigration from a 10 year-old's point of view. These difficult subjects are sometimes hard to talk about, but Yang did so in a way that connects with young readers. I really enjoyed this one.

Jan 08, 2019

Brilliant portrayal of the struggles some families experience. It is very hard be in a helpless situation. I do not think living like this is limited to immigrants. I loved Mia! And Hank. There were so many things that happened that made me mad, like when Mr. Yao made them pay for things that should have been his responsibility to fix. And when the teacher gave Mia's pencil to Jason! The list of "bad" people made me as furious as it made Mia. Very engaging read.

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OPL_KrisC Nov 27, 2018

OPL_KrisC thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over


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