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Front Desk

by Kelly Yang

Series: Front Desk (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,4526012,826 (4.27)26
Juvenile Fiction. Juvenile Literature. HTML:Winner of the Asian / Pacific American Award for Children's Literature!
* "Many readers will recognize themselves or their neighbors in these pages." ??Kirkus Reviews, starred review

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 Tangs will be doomed.
Number 3: 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 drea
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» See also 26 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
Really liked this! Will be recommending it. ( )
  AnnesLibrary | Jan 28, 2024 |
Very, very close to being a five-star book for me, but there was something about the ending that my adult mind could not accept. First, that Mia managed to raise so much money so quickly from so many people was unbelievable. Second, the logistics of all those people investing in the hotel and co-owning it boggles my mind. When I think hard about it, though, it's pretty much an analog
Kickstarter/GoFundMe situation, so I don't know why I can't accept it. I suppose it just didn't feel real to me. It felt too good to be true, maybe too much like the ending of It's a Wonderful Life.


This is a children's book, though, and I wonder how many kids will find the ending unbelievable. It is super satisfying in a book filled with so much unfairness. You want Mia and her family and friends to succeed because they've had to put up with so much hardship and cruelty.

With the exception of the ending, I liked everything about this book. Especially:

1. The celebration of writing, especially thank you notes. Didn't this book make you want to write a thank you note to someone who's helped you? Mia uses writing to make connections with people who otherwise might just pass out of her life. She also uses writing to give herself power she wouldn't have otherwise (because she can write with authority). I love that her treasured possession is a pencil because it shows the reader how important writing is to her.

2. The relationships between the characters are realistically complex. Mia's relationships with Lupe, Jason, and her mom evolved as Mia got more information about each of them. This points to well drawn characters, thoughtful backstories, and rich interactions between the characters. Even the villain Mr. Yao gets to have a tender moment appreciating a past motel manager (who he probably treated like crap, but the point is Mr. Yao is a human being even if he's a bad one).

3. The brilliant handling of social justice themes. This book never felt overly didactic even though it offers a lot of lessons about injustice in America. It will be a great discussion starter for kids and adults. ( )
  LibrarianDest | Jan 3, 2024 |
A really cute story that one of my local bookstores (Book Bin of Corvallis) recommended on their facebook page. Mia Tang is a tenacious ten year old, an immigrant with moxie who knows she faces long odds but will do anything to right the wrongs against her friends and family. Based on the experiences of the author, Front Desk is set in the mid-90s, when the Chinese immigration waves were educated people leaving what they thought was a sinking ship for opportunity, but America isn't necessarily the Golden Mountain who takes in huddled masses as believed.

It's absolutely frustrating to see other immigrants want to pull the ladder up after them, taking advantage of others like Mr. Yao, the owner of the motel, does as he hires Mia's parents to run the place. Minority solidarity is also discussed as he and other antagonists automatically classify all black people as 'bad guys', much to Mia's fury. Luckily, our heroine discovers she's got a gift for words, and tackles problems through letter writing.

Even though this is middle grade, I absolutely loved it and would also rec it to all ages.

reread notes, 2/23/22- I read this following a reread of [b:Dragonwings|876034|Dragonwings (Golden Mountain Chronicles, #5)|Laurence Yep|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1388278003l/876034._SX50_.jpg|2831204], and it's striking how parallel the struggles of Chinese immigrants are, even separated by 90 years. Would make for good companions in a unit, I think (I'm not an educator, though). ( )
  Daumari | Dec 28, 2023 |
I really loved this read. It was such a fast and quick read. I loved how this book was set in the 90 and focused on the Chinese experience in americans. It dealt with so many harder topics like racism, friendship and running a hotel. It also focused alot on found family and the kindness of strangers in a cruel world. This book put a smile on my face and and brought tears to my eyes. I really loved the characters in this book and am so excited for book 2!! ( )
  lmauro123 | Dec 28, 2023 |
I really loved this read. It was such a fast and quick read. I loved how this book was set in the 90 and focused on the Chinese experience in americans. It dealt with so many harder topics like racism, friendship and running a hotel. It also focused alot on found family and the kindness of strangers in a cruel world. This book put a smile on my face and and brought tears to my eyes. I really loved the characters in this book and am so excited for book 2!! ( )
  lmauro123 | Dec 28, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
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Juvenile Fiction. Juvenile Literature. HTML:Winner of the Asian / Pacific American Award for Children's Literature!
* "Many readers will recognize themselves or their neighbors in these pages." ??Kirkus Reviews, starred review

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 Tangs will be doomed.
Number 3: 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 drea

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