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 Incorporated, 2018
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781338157826
1338157825
9781338157796
1338157795
Characteristics: 286, [12] pages ; 22 cm

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From Library Staff

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, exploits them. Mia works the front desk and tries to cope with demanding customers and other recent immigrants.

Read the 2021 Novel Idea - Youth Edition

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.

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 ... Read More »


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ArapahoeJulieH Oct 17, 2020

Mia is a 10-year-old Chinese immigrant who moved to California with her parents. After a series of dead-end employment situations, the family lands a job managing the Calivista motel owned by the unscrupulous and insensitive Mr. Yao. When not attending school, Mia manages the front desk and creates a community of friends with the weekly residents. This junior novel covers array of timely topics....immigration, class, culture, race, and the importance of family, friendship, community and... holding fast to your dreams. There are unfair incidents of bigotry suffered by a weekly resident of color and how Mia comes to his defens with compassion, grace, and confidence. Many of the stories and incidents in the book mirror the life of the author who ran the front desk in the motel where her parents worked.
There is much that young readers will take away from Mia's story!

c
Coslee
Sep 04, 2020

Amazing. I couldn't put this book down.👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

s
sellee
Sep 04, 2020

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!! Good for 10 year old kids to understand racism.

JCLEmilyD Jun 30, 2020

It covers lots of social issues (too many in my opinion) at a shallow level of discussion. This is a wannabe memoir that doesn't have a cohesive plot. I wish the author would pick one or two plot points and flushed them out, perhaps creating a squeal or series with the other plots.

JCLEmmaF Jun 22, 2020

This book is about a 10 year old learning about language, agency, and social justice. While this book is good, and I appreciate that it comes from Yang's life, it is so packed too full to the point it's unbelievable, and perhaps overwhelming for a kid reader.

JCLLizW Feb 03, 2020

This realistic fiction - based on the author's own childhood - does an excellent job of portraying immigrant experiences, poverty, and racism in a way that does not condescend to children.

Hillsboro_RobP Jan 30, 2020

Excellent middle-grade novel that brings both the exploitation of immigrant labor and direct racism to the front for a compelling page-turner. Some of the plot points that had me doubting actually turned out to be true events in the author's life!
Although everything is painted in very broad strokes (the heavy-handed racism is intense) and the solutions a bit on the easy side (Although I love Mia, she's definitely a hero's hero), I really appreciated the angle that even though many immigrants are victims of racism, they can still hold very damaging racist views themselves. I don't think I've read another middle grade novel that addressed this.

Yang's personal story is similar to Mia's, and well worth reading in itself. Happy to see this as a 2020-2021 OBOB!

c
courtws
Nov 11, 2019

FABULOUS!!! Great storytelling, with tension that kept ratcheting upward. This will be one I return to again and again as a model for how to do MG novels correctly. Wonderful read.

IndyPL_SteveB Sep 27, 2019

Heartfelt novel for ages 10-12 about a poor Chinese immigrant family trying to adjust to life in California. A surefire school read-aloud.

This is a well-written, personally-felt children’s novel that can allow you to see life through the eyes of someone else in very different circumstances from you.

Mia Tang is a 10-year old fifth grader in the 1990s. Her parents thought that moving to the United States from China would allow them to escape poverty because in the United States everyone is happy and “free”. They are reduced to working menial jobs and living in an old car, until they get the opportunity to manage a motel, where they can live for free. Since they can’t hire help, they exhaust themselves cleaning the rooms, doing the laundry, and working 16-hour days. Mia, being clever, takes on the job of working the front desk whenever she is not in school. She befriends the regular renters and frequent stayers and starts to create a family atmosphere. She also begins working on a grand plan to get them out of this unsettled life.

s
Stargirl_0
Aug 28, 2019

My daughter just finished this book. She turned ten last week and is at a 9th grade reading level. Her report was that she loved the book and the author's voice. She admitted that she would not have picked the book out on her own (I did) and was happily surprised by it.

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chorokck
Mar 28, 2020

chorokck thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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violet_dove_763
Jan 28, 2020

violet_dove_763 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 8 and 14

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mauve_seastar_22
Jan 14, 2020

mauve_seastar_22 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 99

awesomekittygirl900 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 8 and 12

OPL_KrisC Nov 27, 2018

OPL_KrisC thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over

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