Book Review: Front Desk, by Kelly Yang

Review by Holly Olsen

The owner of the Calivista motel, the greedy Mr. Yao, is not sympathetic to the Tang family and under pays them for their work. Little does he know that the Tang family is hiding other immigrants in vacant rooms. As Mia dreams of owning her own motel, she watches the hardships and hard work her parents put into running the motel. However, the family is faced with dealing with police discrimination when a robbery occurs at the motel. 

This book is the winner of the 2019 Asian Pacific American award. It is loosely based on the events of the author’s life. A heartwarming story, it demonstrates how a young immigrant girl witnesses discrimination but also understands tolerance as she grows to love her new country and the people she meets.


By having Mia as the narrator, readers are able to see the frustration she has in her new country but can also see her hope for the future. This would be a great read aloud for upper elementary classrooms and would be a good way to begin discussions about immigration with students. Students might be interested to read the sequel, Three Keys, which continues the story of Mia at the Calivista motel.

Click here to check out the website for Front Desk. You can also check out Kelly Yang’s author site here.

Front Desk. (2018). Kelly Yang. Scholastic.

Reviewed by Holly Olsen, Masters of Education student, teacher for the past 20 years recently returning to her alma mater the U of M to receive a Masters degree.

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