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Front Desk

(Front Desk #1)

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4.40  ·  Rating details ·  12,090 ratings  ·  2,183 reviews
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 Ta
...more
Hardcover, 298 pages
Published May 29th 2018 by Arthur A. Levine Books
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Vera I'm going to give it to my own 5th grader to read next, but I don't think my 2nd grader daughter would be ready for this book yet.
Update: my 5th grade…more
I'm going to give it to my own 5th grader to read next, but I don't think my 2nd grader daughter would be ready for this book yet.
Update: my 5th grader really loved it! :)(less)
Lindsay Ernst Mia, the main character, makes a comment about being aware of drunk potential customers. Later, she has a confrontation with a drunk customer, after s…moreMia, the main character, makes a comment about being aware of drunk potential customers. Later, she has a confrontation with a drunk customer, after she asks him to step outside of the enclosure so she can get her parents. He refuses and goes after her—only to be interrupted by Hank.
Also, the part where her mom is assaulted could be hard for your students to listen to. (less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.40  · 
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Cristina Monica
Anyone who looks at the cover will think that it hides a light—but perhaps still meaningful—story. It does not let on that the reader will be outraged at many of the characters and situations hidden inside.

Mia Tang’s family members are courageous and strong people, but they are immigrants who recently arrived in a completely foreign country—from China to America—and there is so much they don’t know yet. There is also so much they don’t have access to.

And the problem with being a new immigrant is
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Donalyn
Much deeper and complex than the playful cover indicates. A wonderful story about immigrants, poverty, and family.
Julie
This middle grades novel features a Chinese-American protagonist named Mia, a nasty hotel owner named Mr. Yao, and the most realistic tackling of the subject of racism that I've ever encountered in a juvenile lit read.

Mr. Yao is mean as hell and uses adult language (my 9 & 11-year-old daughters found this to be a scintillating element), and he uses and abuses Mia's parents, Chinese immigrants who have recently arrived in the U.S.

People are hungry in this novel. Truly hungry. People are beaten, t
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Fafa's Book Corner
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mini review:

GR Ultimate Summer Reading Challenge: Diversify Yourself.

Trigger warning: Racism, a break-in (wherein a character gets injured), and bullying.

I heard about Front Desk through Twitter. The cover caught my attention as did the synopsis. I'm happy to say that I enjoyed reading this!

I'm honestly so surprised Front Desk isn't more popular. This is such an important book especially for immigrant families. Front Desk takes place in 1990 following Mia and her family adjusting to life in Amer
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CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨
Front Desk is a book that means a lot to me.
More importantly, I believe that Front Desk will be a book that will mean a lot to others - immigrants of all ages, children, adults, parents.

- The story is so full of heart. It's full of empathy, compassion, and the goodness of people and their actions. For this reason, I think Front Desk is an excellent book for children.
- The story, too, is full of tough lessons about the world. It addresses and explores how perspectives and prejudice can have si
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Lisa Vegan
For some reason I had incorrectly thought this was a graphic book. I was looking for a quick read to read alongside my other main book and many ancillary books. It’s a regular text novel but it still worked the way I’d hoped, a fast read, and a gripping read, and completely satisfying.

But I’ve been reading too many books with too much heartbreak and showing too many of the worst flaws that some humans have. This was another, and over and over again it broke my heart, but over and over again it a
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mindful.librarian ☀️
Thanks to @kidlitexchange for this review copy ~ all opinions are my own!

Hands-down one of my favorite middle grade titles of 2018, FRONT DESK is a spectacular and accessible glimpse into the life a 5th grade girl named Mia who lives in a motel that her parents manage. It is also a glimpse into the life of many Chinese immigrants in the US in the 1980s and early 1990s, as detailed in the author's note. The book draws heavily on the childhood experiences of the author, making the story even more
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Fadwa (Word Wonders)
CW: physical assault, racism, employee mistreatment, poverty, systemic oppression, anti-blackness, bullying, talk of robbery and assault, hospital.

I really do not know where to start with this review because I went into it not knowing what to expect, not even knowing what the book was about and it absolutely blew me away. FRONT DESK is both wholesome because of the main character's desire to help everyone and heavy because of the topics it deals with. This motel was a micro-society of its own, t
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Rachel Reads Ravenously
4 stars!

Middle grade is quickly becoming one of my favorite genres, mostly because of stories like this one. Placed in the 90's, Mia and her family moved to the USA from China in hopes for a better future. They get a job working at a hotel and realize they are completely overwhelmed and outnumbered. Mia spends all her free time from school managing the front desk and she learns a lot along the way.

I think there are so many children who can relate to Mia and her story. While the cover makes thi
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Danielle
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade-ya
Wow. This book.

It tackles injustices for immigrants, and other communities, and I really admire the way Kelly Yang created that overlap and connection. The story is centered around Mia, a young girl working with her parents' at a motel near Disneyland who discovers that her writing has the power to fight injustice for herself and those around her that she cares about. A true and unflinching yet very hopeful, optimistic story sure to buoy and inspire kid readers.

"We're immigrants...Our lives ar
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Beth
Oct 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I read three compelling books this weekend. This was the first, and the easiest to talk about. It's a straightforward story - maybe too straightforward - the sort of children's book where the child is the focus of the story, that which propels it forward. There's a charm to that, because often children are reactive. I don't mean passive: think of Narnia, where they walk through a wardrobe and find themselves in another world. How many children's books read like that?

There's a certain unreality t
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Christy
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars. This was the first book I chose to try out for Middle Grade March and I found the author, Kelly Yang, to be so fascinating. She started going to college at the young age of 13 and graduated from UC Berkeley at 17 and Harvard Law School at 20.... WOW!! No wonder she can write a good story. Plus, much of this book is based on real life experiences that she went through.

I listened to this one on Audio and thought it was a delightful, yet somewhat difficult read full of issues. It's not
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Jessica Woodbury
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reading this book reminded me of the vast difference between the way kids and adults read. For me, FRONT DESK was lovely and important but also harrowing. I was really anxious about all the difficult things Mia and her family go through, because there really are a lot of them. Mia is so optimistic and action-oriented, but as an adult I felt overwhelmed. My kids, however, were unphased. They really liked Mia, they liked the idea of working in the motel, they were happy to see each new problem def ...more
Ms. Yingling
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
ARC provided by the publisher



It's the early 1990s, and Mia and her parents have moved to California from China in search of more freedom and opportunities. Unfortunately, they are not able to get the same sort of professional jobs they had in China, and work at a Chinese restaurant until Mia's help turns disastrous! They eventually find a hotel in Anaheim in need of managers, and are happy that they won't have to pay all of their salary for rent. The owner, Mr. Yao, promises them a certain rate
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Jessica
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Based on the author's own experience coming to America from China at a young age and having to help her parents manage a small hotel. Fascinating, heartbreaking, and ultimately full of hope. This is a book written with love, and even when things looked dark for Mia and her family, it was a book written with a sort of joy, and humor, that made even the bad things seem like they would be okay. I've heard a lot of buzz about this book, and it's entirely deserved. I am going to thinking about this b ...more
Adri
AN INCREDIBLY BRILLIANT TOUR DE FORCE WITH SO MUCH HEART AND SO MUCH TO SAY. READ IT 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼
Manybooks
Although I have for the most part very much enjoyed Kelly Yang's (semi-autobiographoical) Middle Grade immigration novel Front Desk, I am also just a wee bit conflicted regarding some of the novel's thematics and contents.

Now I do generally and for the most part very much love young Mia's first person singular narration in Front Desk. Her voice most certainly does to and for me feel and read like an authentic ten year old, although I also do at times think that Mia acts and talks perhaps just a
...more
Melanie
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I first heard about this middle grade debut many months ago, and FRONT DESK has remained on my radar since then thanks to incredible reviews and word of mouth, all of which are solidly earned by the novel. I was invested in Mia's story from page one. I couldn't wait to find out what would happen to her and her Chinese immigrant family as they struggled to make ends meet as managers of a motel while the whole world seemed to be against them--except, ultimately, their own vibrant diverse community ...more
Laura (bbliophile)
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-releases
I stayed up way too late to finish this book but I have no regrets because I loved it so, so much
Aj Sterkel
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: middle-grade
Likes: This book is an #OwnVoices novel based on the author’s experience as a Chinese immigrant whose parents ran a motel. The author actually spent part of her childhood working at the front desk. The book’s main character, Mia, is a likeable child. She’s resourceful and independent and puts up with a lot of nonsense from adults. At a young age, she has to face racism, poverty, crime, homelessness, and her parents being exploited by their bosses. Even though this novel’s plot is relentlessly de ...more
Kelly
Jun 11, 2018 added it
Shelves: read-in-2018
Mia's family immigrated from China, and finding a job has been tough for her parents. But when the opportunity arises that allows them to live at a motel in exchange for their work (and a small salary on top of that), they take it. Mia is, of course, also recruited for covering shifts at the desk.

What follows is a story of Mia learning to fit into her new school, navigating new friendships and explanations for what her life is like, dealing with racism, and finding herself in the position to cha
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Jen Petro-Roy
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely spectacular. This is a must-read and such a vivid window into the life of new immigrants and those struggling with money. I love the voice in this one, and the supporting characters are so great.
Jillian Heise
So full of heart and love. With messages of acceptance and perseverance and community, this is a story that is so needed today. This middle grade is a must-add to classroom and school libraries.
Liesl Shurtliff
I loved this book so much. Everyone should read it. Read it it your kids. Read it to your class. Read it to yourself. A much needed book.
Cheryl
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Much darker and more intense than the cover suggests. Normally in a book about a family facing extraordinary challenges, the reader sees at least some love, some light. There's very little of that here. And the happy ending, well, I suppose it *could* happen.

The author's note teaches some history and explains that the book is almost a memoir, but doesn't claim that it's all really true.

I have no idea if young readers will appreciate the story, either. I hope they do, so, rounding up my persona
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Rase McCray
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mg-reads
Just over a year ago, I read Gary D. Schmidt’s Okay For Now, and I was absolutely blown away by how good it was. It’s easily one of the best middle grade books I’ve ever read—maybe THE best middle grade book I’ve read.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang is the best book I’ve read since then—it’s that good. It’s funny and exciting even as it explores heavy subjects, and main character Mia’s charm and wit carry you through to a nail biting, high stakes climax. Basically, I can’t say enough good things about
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Lou (Lou and Life)
THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. I absolutely loved it. This book was everything that I was expecting it to be and more. I have a lot of books on my to be read pile of probably 400+ books, but within 24 hours of the book arriving in my house, I had read it. That is amazing for a reader like me. So Front Desk is a middle grade book that tackles so many important topics in such a good way. It deals with topics like racism, but not only to Asians, but to Black people as well. The story asks us to question the ...more
Tracy
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to the Kid Lit Exchange for sharing a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

FRONT DESK is loosely based on author Kelly Yang’s life experience, as explained in an author’s note at the end of the book.

Her straightforward writing makes this book perfect for younger middle grade readers (Mia is 10). Yet Yang tackles difficult issues like interpersonal, systemic, and institutional racism. She writes so simply and honestly, it’s hard to imagine a young person walking away without u
...more
Laura Gardner
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
5/5 for FRONT DESK by @kellyyanghk; thanks to @scholasticbooks for the ARC to review...all opinions are my own. I'll be sharing this with @theloudlibrarylady and @kidlitexchange next!
_*_*_*_*_*
Mia Tang is a recent immigrant to the United States from China in the 1980s. Her parents and she manage a motel; Mia works the front desk...at ten years old. Her parents hide immigrants who need a place to stay in extra rooms in the motel, but at great personal risk. Swipe for the back to see more...
_*_*_*
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Laura
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mia comes to Anaheim, not to go to Disneyland, but to help her parents run a hotel. The owner of the hotel is paying them diddly-squat to begin with, and cuts the rate again, because he knows he has them hooked. Buying thrift store clothes, eating whatever is cheapest to buy, her parents try to keep going.

Based on the author's life, and her experiences helping her parents run a hotel, the stories told in this book, of the evil that people do, of the love as well, makes for a captivating book.

Th
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NZ Intermediate S...: Front Desk 1 4 Apr 26, 2020 11:15PM  
Mock Newbery 2021: * 2019 Mock Newbery Winner 25 230 Feb 20, 2019 04:48AM  
Mock Newbery 2021: July Read - Front Desk 36 271 Nov 11, 2018 08:11AM  

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Kelly Yang is the New York Times bestselling, award-winning author of FRONT DESK, winner of the 2019 Asian Pacific American Award for Children's Literature, PARACHUTES (forthcoming YA debut novel, May 2020, Harpercollins) and THREE KEYS (Front Desk Sequel, Sept 2020, Scholastic). She was born in China and grew up in Los Angeles. She went to college at the age of 13 and graduated from UC Berkeley a ...more

Other books in the series

Front Desk (2 books)
  • Three Keys (Front Desk, #2)

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Summer reading season is in full swing, which means many of the year's biggest and best releases are coming out of the gates. And although your Ju...
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“So what'd you write about?'

'I wrote about how last weekend my parents and I waited in line at the movies for an hour, and when we finally got up to the ticket booth lady, they were sold out! Isn't that sad?'

'That is super sad,' I said, wishing, hoping, one day that would be my super sad.”
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