Front Desk

Front Desk

Book - 2018
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Recent immigrants from China and desperate for work and money, ten-year-old Mia Tang's parents take a job managing a rundown motel in Southern California, even though the owner, Mr. Yao is a nasty skinflint who exploits them; while her mother (who was an engineer in China) does the cleaning, Mia works the front desk and tries to cope with demanding customers and other recent immigrants--not to mention being only one of two Chinese in her fifth grade class, the other being Mr. Yao's son, Jason.
Publisher: New York, NY : Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic Inc., 2018
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781338157796
Branch Call Number: J YANG
Characteristics: 286 pages ; 22 cm


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Dec 04, 2018

At 10 years old, Mia Tang manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel, attends the 5th grade, and is a budding letter-writing activist and community organizer.

Mia isn’t fearless, she just exhibits “ordinary courage.” She writes letters that advocate. She contemplates which rule-bending risks are ethical let alone viable. She calls out her peers—and the adults in the room. It’s remarkable* how Mia disrupts, interrupts, and intervenes when the adults are speaking. Spared a bratty portrayal, Mia calls bullshit on unfair behavior.

Mia is what an empathetic character looks like when the wounds are fresh. She sees how her mother and father and friends are made to suffer. Mia is bullied for her poverty, and what little she has is threatened by callous indifference, and some unexplained need to punish her. Yang is masterful in writing despicable actions without excusing them—because there is no excuse.

It’s a pleasure reading a novel where the protagonist is growing into her voice and assertiveness, but is by no means muted or timid at the beginning. She is drawn into a community that cares for and invests in one another. Indeed, those with the fewest resources in the novel are the most generous with them. Those with the most, demonstrate an insatiable greed and hostility; in short, they are merciless.

In Front Desk, Yang has written for us the kind of content and character we need to read more often.

Recommended for all the libraries, and book clubs; for those looking who enjoy contemporary, realistic fiction; empowering characters; writer protagonists; immigrant stories; for the large portion of our population who will appreciate being seen.

Jul 08, 2018

My first grader doesn’t want me to stop reading this book to her. It is a great book to read together as there are so many great talking points.


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