Front Desk

Front Desk

eBook - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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 Inc.,, 2018.
Copyright Date: ©2018
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file,rda
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc. - Distributor

Related Resources


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
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.

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.

Aug 15, 2019

My favourite book!
This is a fiction story, yet there are non-fiction events, such as loan sharks.
I love how Mia's family is so hard-working for money, and will never give up. This story is well-written and brings back a lot of memories for me from Chinese films. Mia is a very capable kid! I'm just sitting here writing reviews...
Jason is also a cool character. Mia and him were enemies who turned into...Friends?
I liked how they showed Mr. Yao at the end that they were great/capable enough to buy his motel! LOVE THIS BOOK!

Jul 08, 2019

I enjoyed this novel immensely. As a child of immigrants, I can relate to how much sacrifice and suffering families have to endure, particularly in the 80s and 90s. Some things actually hit really close to home. This books deals with tough topics, but in a way a kid can understand without speaking down on them. Thank you, for having diverse books. I wish I had this when I was a kid. #PACL2019

Jun 06, 2019

A great read! Mia is a strong, independent, creative, and determined young lady. The author shows you her fears and how she deals with obstacles at school, in her community, and at her 'work' at the hotel her parents run. She truly persists and while the book doesn't have exactly the happy ending you might be expecting, it's a very satisfying one. #PACL2019

May 23, 2019

This book is perfect from head to toe. This is a heart-warming story that teaches children (and is a wonderful refresher to adults) on immigration, the American Dream and how to fight racism. Audiobook for this one is top notch and the narrator does an amazing job evoking all the important emotion needed for this very intelligent and gentle story.

May 15, 2019

A smart, funny, and very moving story about Mia, a young girl helping her Chinese immigrant parents manage a hotel in early 90s California. I couldn't put this down - I sat down intending to read a couple of chapters and looked up 200 pages later.

IndyPL_JosephL Feb 28, 2019

A roller coaster of thoughts, feelings, and hard truths regarding the nature of both exclusion and inclusion within American society. Told through the perspective of a young girl whose family has only recently immigrated to America from China, we are given a tale that is one part heartwarming and two parts distressing. Through Mia, we see racial prejudiced, violence, and abuse toward any many kinds directed at people of varying colors. Hard to swallow at times, the book talks so frankly in some cases that it sounds impossible. Yet, as the author mentions in her afterward, many of the things Mia and her family go through are grounded in her own struggles and experiences, making it something that needs to be read no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

Chapel_Hill_MarthaW Jan 31, 2019

I really enjoyed this story -- based in large part on the author's own childhood experiences -- of Chinese immigrants in Southern California in the early 1990s. It strikes the perfect of illustrating the crazy language and cultural barriers facing Asian immigrants to the US, as well as the casual racism they encounter on a daily basis, without ever becoming too much of a downer -- there's a lot of kid appeal here, and you'll find yourself really rooting for the protagonist. I liked this one a lot, and was really pleased it got some love at the ALA Youth Media Awards this week.

IndyPL_ShellieR Jan 23, 2019

It was hard to watch the struggles of this kid and her family and friends but it's impossible not to care about them. It's a book that talks about important things in a totally organic way and that is a rare treat - like tasty health food!

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Sep 29, 2019

Michaela531 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

OPL_KrisC Nov 27, 2018

OPL_KrisC thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at OPL

To Top