Hi All! It’s Becky, again. Front Desk by Kelly Yang was a book that intended to read most of last year and just never got a chance. I finally listened to the audio book and here are my thoughts.
Title: Front Desk
Author: Kelly Yang
Note: I listened to the audio book.
Summary: Mia Tang life is different than most of her classmates. Mia is a Chinese immigrant and she and her parents live and work in a motel. Mia doesn’t want anyone to know that her family doesn’t have a lot a money so she keeps her home life a secret. But as Mia makes friends with people at school and the weekly tenants at the motel she learns that she needs to let people help just as she likes to help her friends and family. Mia’s story is about empathy and the importance of friends and family.
What’s Good: Mia is a spunky tween main character who has a great heart and is willing to stand up against adult for what she believes. She is the type of character that becomes a literature favorite. Her story is filled with important messages. Yang carefully weaves together her characters to illustrate to young readers how actions impact others and why people need to have empathy towards each other. Yet, the best part of this book is how Yang has created one of the most realistic depictions of the immigrant experience that I have read in middle grade fiction. She deals with classmates mocking her for her lack of money and extreme prejudice. Mia’s life is not pretty but it is realistic.
What’s Not So Good: I had issues with the setting. I have been told that the book takes place in the 90s but at no time during the book is that fact really conveyed. Also, there were moments when Mia’s voice came off a little disingenuous and didn’t really sound like a 10 year old. Plus, the ending didn’t really work for me. I feel like there were other ways to wrap up that story that fit better with the realistic tone of the novel.
Bottom Line: Front Desk is a great look at the immigrant experience with realistic depictions of racism and the struggles they faced. This book will work well in a classroom and fans of middle grade fiction will enjoy it.
Final Rating: 3 out of 5