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Front Desk

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  4,522 ratings  ·  1,039 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
Hardcover, 298 pages
Published May 29th 2018 by Arthur A. Levine Books
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Mrs. Prince If you read the one and only Ivan to 2nd graders, then I think that this book would not be too much for them. I think this book will open the door to…moreIf you read the one and only Ivan to 2nd graders, then I think that this book would not be too much for them. I think this book will open the door to many conversations so you would need to be ready for that. There is a scene where the mother gets injured by some robbers. No violence happens "on stage" but that still may upset sensitive readers. (less)
Rebecca Karli There are some legal and financial issues that a 2nd grader would not understand or be interested in. For example, one of the Chinese immigrants is a…moreThere are some legal and financial issues that a 2nd grader would not understand or be interested in. For example, one of the Chinese immigrants is a victim to loan sharks, which is a hard concept for 7 year olds to grasp, although the author does explain it in simple terms: borrowing money, interest, etc. (less)

Community Reviews

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4.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,522 ratings  ·  1,039 reviews

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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
Much deeper and complex than the playful cover indicates. A wonderful story about immigrants, poverty, and family.
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
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
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
Kate Olson
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Bruna Miranda
TW: Bullying, racismo, assalto seguido de violência

Eu gostei MUITO da Mia como protagonista. Ela é a clássica protagonista de middle grade só que com uma perspectiva completamente nova pra mim que é a de uma criança imigrante chinesa nos EUA. Ela e os pais se mudam para Anaheim para trabalhar como gerentes de um hotel de beira de estrada (que inglês chamam de "motel", mas definitivamente não é o mesmo que "motel" no Brasil). No começo isso parece um sonho realizado já que finalmente vão deixar
Karen Witzler
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
Grades 4 -6 - Front Desk is written from the perspective of Mia Tang, who along with her parents runs the Calivista Motel. Mia is 10(?) years old and she and her parents have just arrived in California from China. This book provides a window into the lives of immigrants who may live in a state of cultural/legal limbo as they attempt to establish a life on a new part of the globe. Exploitative employers, loan sharks, the US health care system, racism, as well as kindness, hard work, and persevera ...more
Mary Lee
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An insider's story of the challenges of immigration, language learning, poverty. This book doesn't flinch away from racism, classism, gender bias or bullying. Mia, the main character, is full of spunk and perseverance. In a hundred small ways (and a few big ones) she changes lives with her positive ideas and actions.
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.
Laura Harrison
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Disregard the cute but fluff cover art. This is a serious Newbery contender for 2019. Better yet, children will love it!
Lou (BooksAreAWayOfLife)
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
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
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
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.
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books
3.75 stars. Author Kelly Yang's personal childhood experiences are portrayed in story of ten-year old, Mia Tang, whose family comes to America expecting great success, but discovers like many immigrants that life is very hard: low paying jobs nobody else wants, employers who take advantage of them in many ways, etc. Mia's parents agree to manage an Anaheim, CA hotel for Mr. Yao in return for free rent, who reneges on his $5 per room agreement in several ways. Mia works the front desk because her ...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 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...
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Front Desk, Kelly Yang's debut novel in the United States, received much support as a candidate for the 2018 Newbery awards. With a fierce nationwide debate happening at the time about immigration, the book spoke on the issue without bias or character assassination. The story draws heavily on Kelly Yang's experience in the early 1990s as a young immigrant to California from China. Mia Tang, a fifth-grader, isn't convinced moving to America was a good idea, but her parents seem certain. Leaving ...more
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
ALL the stars, and easily one of my very favorite books of the year!!!!

FRONT DESK is highly deserving of every positive review. It’s an eye opening book that will warm your heart one minute, and have you shaking your head in frustration the next. I can’t remember the last time I experienced so many emotions, and felt like I really comprehended what it can be like for an immigrant family in America. You definitely need to make time to read this book, and add it to your classroom libraries and d
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Love love LOVE. The real-life examples of the cycle of poverty, the overwhelming struggles of immigrants, and the social shame of racism...all treated in a sensitive, delicate way for young readers to digest, but not so lightly as to not be taken seriously. Mia is SUCH a wonderful character and you cheer for her and her family and friends at every turn.
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.

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Mock Newbery 2020: * 2019 Mock Newbery Winner 25 175 Feb 20, 2019 04:48AM  
Mock Newbery 2020: July Read - Front Desk 36 264 Nov 11, 2018 08:11AM  
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KELLY YANG, Founder and Managing Director of The Kelly Yang Project, is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard Law School. Kelly entered college at the age of 13 and Harvard Law School at the age of 17. In 2005, at the age of 20, Kelly became one of the youngest graduates of Harvard Law School.

Kelly is a columnist for the South China Morning Post, writing on education, cu
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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.”
“Sometimes terrible things happen, but there's nothing more terrible than not having anybody to tell it to.” 5 likes
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