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Review of Front Desk

Front Desk
by Kelly Yang
Intermediate    Levine/Scholastic    298 pp.
5/18    978-1-338-15779-6    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-1-338-15780-2    $10.99

Mia Tang, a resourceful and indomitable ten-year-old, takes on front desk duties at the Calivista Motel, where her parents are managers and 24/7 workers. Having been in the States (from China) for only two years, Mia’s parents are thrilled to have this job after losing their old restaurant jobs and apartment and needing to live in their car. However, the family’s grand dream of a free and prosperous life seems farther away than ever when a series of nightmarish events strikes. The washing machine breaks down. A customer’s car is stolen. Mia’s mother is beaten by robbers. And what will happen to the Tang family if Mr. Yao, the miserly motel owner, finds out that Mia’s parents also have been secretly sheltering recent immigrants? Mia’s gradual understanding of racism and prejudice in America and her subsequent activism are at the heart of this triumphant tale. Readers will admire Mia for her audacity and her creativity in finding solutions for seemingly insurmountable situations. Drawing largely on her personal experiences, Yang threads both comedy and social issues through Mia’s relatable and entertaining storyline from a few decades ago (the 1990s) and makes it relevant to 2018 America.

From the July/August 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: ALA Awards.

About Roxanne Hsu Feldman

Roxanne Hsu Feldman is the Middle School Librarian at The Dalton School in New York City. She is fully bilingual in Mandarin and English.

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