cover image Front Desk

Front Desk

Kelly Yang. Scholastic/Levine, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-338-15779-6

Yang draws effectively on her own childhood in this lively debut, which offers a candid portrait of one Chinese-American immigrant experience through the eyes of a gutsy, empathetic 10-year-old. In 1993, when Mia Tang’s parents become managers of a California motel, she envisions bright times ahead: the motel has a pool, and Disneyland is just down the road. But the mean-spirited motel owner bans her from the pool and cheats her parents out of money they deserve, keeping Disneyland far out of reach. While her parents work tirelessly, Mia takes charge of the front desk—and much more. Believing that “sometimes, you have to... be creative to get what you want,” and flouting her mother’s repeated assertion that Mia’s English will never be as proficient as native-born Americans’, she writes letters—creatively forged—to aid others, including an African-American victimized by racial profiling and a Chinese immigrant abused by his boss. Mia’s story is one of indefatigable hope and of triumph over injustice, and her voice is genuine and inspiring. Ages 8–12. (May)