Mia Tang has a lot of secrets.
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.
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 Tangs will be doomed.
She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language?
It will take all of Mia's courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?
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Praise for Front Desk
"Debut author Yang weaves in autobiographical content while creating a feisty and empowered heroine. The supporting characters are rich in voice and context, with multiple villains and friends that achingly reveal life in America in the 1990s for persons of color and those living in poverty. Heavy themes, including extortion, fraud, and racism, are balanced with the naïve dreams and determination of a 10-year-old.... With bittersweet information on Chinese immigration to America added in an author's note, this book captures many important themes to explore individually or in the classroom. Many readers will recognize themselves or their neighbors in these pages."
-- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Reminiscent of the television series Fresh Off the Boat, this title is an honest account of the ups and downs of immigrant life in America in the early 1990s, here told from a child's perspective. Basing the story on her own childhood experiences, Yang writes Mia's dreams into reality without sacrificing or minimizing the heartbreaking realities of many immigrants' hardships. Resilient Mia stumbles over and over again, but she satisfyingly picks herself right back up, often with the help of her parents, Calivista family, and friends. The question of whether Mia will win the essay contest is a big one, but whether or not the answer is yes, there is much satisfaction in this book's powerful and heart-wrenching close."
-- Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books, starred review
"Mia herself is an irresistible protagonist, and it is a pleasure to see both her writing and her power grow through a series of letters that she sends to remedy injustices. The hefty and satisfying dose of wish fulfillment that closes the story feels fully earned by the specificity and detailed warmth of Yang's setup. Many young readers will see themselves in Mia and her friends.... A swiftly moving plot and a winsome protagonist make this a first purchase for any collection, especially where realistic fiction is in demand."
--School Library Journal, starred review
"Front Desk is a story about the hardships of immigrant life, the perpetuation of injustice, and a sweet, kind, indomitable young girl who chooses to rise up and fight no matter how hard it gets. Kelly Yang's debut is a stunner."
-- Mike Jung, author of Unidentified Suburban Object
"It's the details that sing in this novel, particularly the small moments that feel like everything when you're a kid…This book will help foster empathy for the immigrant experience for young readers, while for immigrant children, it is a much-needed and validating mirror….Deserving of shelf space in every classroom and library."
-- Booklist, starred review
WINNER 2019 - Asian / Pacific American Award for Literature
WINNER 2018 - Parents' Choice Gold Medal Fiction
WINNER 2018 - Bookstagram Choice Awards Best Diverse Middle Grade Fiction
WINNER 2019 - Chinese American Librarians Association CALA Best Book Award
2019 Global Read Aloud Middle Grade Fiction
2019 New York Historical Society Children's History Book Prize Honor Book
2019 E.B. White Read Aloud Award Honor Book
2019 Project Lit Selection Middle Grade Selection
NOMINEE 2019 - Kentucky Bluegrass Children's Book Award
NOMINEE 2020 - North Carolina Children's Book Award
NOMINEE 2019 - Oklahoma Sequoyah Children's Book Award
NOMINEE 2019 - Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award
NOMINEE 2019 - Virginia Reader's Choice Award
NOMINEE 2019 - Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award
NOMINEE 2019 - Rhode Island Children's Book Award
NOMINEE 2020 - North Dakota Flicker Tale Book Award
NOMINEE 2019 - Michigan YouPer Top Ten Title
BEST OF CHILDREN'S BOOKS 2019 - Bank Street Children's Book Committee
BEST OF CHILDREN'S BOOKS 2018 - Kirkus Reviews
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 - Publisher’s Weekly
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 - Washington Post
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 - NPR
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 - Amazon
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 - NBC
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 - School Library Journal
BEST OF CHILDREN'S BOOKS 2018 - New York Public Library
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 - Chicago Public Library
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 - Book Page
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 - The News & Observer
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 - Huffington Post
BEST BOOKS OF 2018 - Center for the Study of Multiculural Children's Literature
SEMI-FINALIST 2018 - Goodreads Choice Awards Best Middle Grade Fiction
MIDDLE GRADE FICTION EDITOR'S CHOICE 2018 - ALA Booklist
NOTABLE BOOK 2019 - Association for Library Service to Children
NOMINEE 2019 - Georgia Children's Book Awards
TOP TEN DEBUT NOVELS 2018 - ALA Booklist for Young Adults
TEN DIVERSE MIDDLE GRADE NOVELS 2018 - Inculture Parent
RECOMMENDED BOOKS 2018 - San Francisco Chronicle
SELECTED 2020 - Wisconsin Golden Archer Battle of the Books
SELECTED 2018 - Kid's Indie Next List "Great Reads for Kids"
SELECTED 2018 - Junior Library Guild Fall 2018 Title