Carol (Reading Ladies)'s Reviews > Front Desk

Front Desk by Kelly Yang
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really liked it
bookshelves: middle-grade, authors-of-color

3.5 stars

Ten year old Mia lives with her immigrant parents in a motel in Anaheim, California. Her parents accept a new job as the managers of the motel, and while they do all the housekeeping duties, Mia helps out at the Front Desk. Mia struggles to fit in at her new school, is good at math, and loves to write; however, she faces many challenges as a second language learner. At last, she makes a best friend, Lupe. Mia has many secrets: she tries to hide the fact that she lives in a motel; she secretly tries to earn money to enter a writing contest; she slyly writes letters to help out certain adult friends; she helps her parents hide immigrants; and she has secret hopes and dreams.

I love that this is an "own voices" story and we learn a great deal about the challenges that Chinese immigrants in the 80s and 90s faced in the U.S. When we read the author's note and realize that parts of the story are based on the author's own childhood experiences, it makes the story even more poignant. I love the spunky, determined, inspirational, problem solving, and brave character of Mia. She's an incorrigible dreamer. I love that she challenges herself to become a better writer despite the fact that English is not her first language. I also adore the friendship theme and appreciate the themes of poverty and family.

Sometimes I feel like the author is teaching the readers a lesson instead of letting the story do the teaching. Perhaps, though, the target audience of younger readers would need some of these concepts explicitly stated. I need to keep in mind that I'm not the intended audience.

I think the story will generate great discussion for middle grade readers and their parents and/or teachers. I'm recommending Front Desk for readers who love diverse literature and "own voices" authors, and for fans of stories about independent and innovative girls who are making a difference in the world. I learned a great deal about the Chinese immigrant experience and appreciated an intimate glimpse into Chinese culture.

For more reviews visit my blog readingladies.com
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Reading Progress

December 13, 2018 – Shelved
December 13, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
January 5, 2019 – Started Reading
January 6, 2019 – Finished Reading
January 10, 2019 – Shelved as: middle-grade
January 25, 2019 – Shelved as: authors-of-color

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