Front Desk by Kelly Yang


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was our first Kelly Yang book in our family, and it kickstarted our status as superfans of all of her work. My daughter's class read this together and her teachers encouraged parents to read it, too. In fact, it was probably that small invitation to read the book that started this whole project I'm doing now because I loved it so much. And I loved reading what my daughter was reading or had read.

Front Desk is the first book in a a series about Mia Tang, a young Chinese girl who emigrates to the United States with her parents. Her parents are hired to manage a motel, and not only do they manage it, they live there. The book explores the discrimination they face as Chinese immigrants, as well as anti-black racism against their friend, Hank. But it's not just about heavy topics. Mia's story is heartwarming and sweet as Yang is able to paint a world through Mia's young eyes with her storytelling. I fell in love with the characters and empathized with their individual stories.

The story takes place in the nineties, which made it really fun for me to read as a nineties kid myself. The best part, however, was watching my daugher be absolutely taken with Mia's story. She couldn't wait to finish the book with her classmates so she could move onto the next book and the next one and the next, etc. etc. 

I think all kids from all walks of life could be equally taken with Yang's writing. She has a gift for telling compelling stories with tough lessons without sounding preachy. She can tackle the tough subjects in such an age-appropriate way that fosters empathy in children for others who may not look like them or live like them. Front Desk feels like such a gift.

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