Intrepid fifth-grader Mia Tang gets a crash course in capitalism when she oversees the front desk at the motel that her Chinese-American parents operate. Loosely based on author Kelly Yang’s experiences as a new immigrant to America, this story shimmers with good cheer, working-class realities and Mia’s unshakeable belief that people can make a difference if they pull together.
To help her family, Mia occupies the manager’s stool at the front desk, but folks aren’t too sure about her until she proves her managerial skills. Mia improvises by putting out a tip jar and makes improvements like creating a better key system.
Despite the Tangs’ hard work, they’re barely making a living because of the motel owner’s shady, untruthful tactics. Beyond this unfairness, Mia experiences racism towards herself in school, and towards one of the African American tenants at the motel. Front Desk also highlights a variety of immigrant hardships through the many visitors the Tangs give free respite to, at the great personal risk of losing their positions at the hotel.
But Mia learns just how powerful her pen can be to right the wrongs in her own backyard, and that honest and persuasive writing can make people come together for the greater good. Front Desk delights with its spunky main character who offers young readers lessons in being fearless.