Front Desk

Front Desk

By Author / Illustrator

Kelly Yang


Representation & Inclusion

Age range(s)



Knights Of Media




Paperback / softback




Mia Tang has a lot of secrets:   1. She lives in a motel, not a big house.   2. Her parents hide immigrants.  3. She wants to be a writer.   It will take all of Mia's courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, and go for her dreams? Perfect for fans of Boy At the Back of the Class and A Kind of Spark.

See also:  Three Keys (book 2);   Room to Dream (book 3)Finally Seen (book 4)



Mia Tang can't understand why her parents moved from China to America. Her mum says that it's freer - but Mia observes that nothing is free and none of the dreams they had of living in a house with a dog and eating hamburgers have materialised. Instead, she's too scared to tell the other children at school that she helps her parents run a dilapidated motel in Anaheim, where they hide illegal immigrants (and stay barely a step away from the clutches of loan sharks). She desperately wants to become a writer too - but what if her mother is right that she hasn't got a chance because her English will never be good enough?

The chasm between Mia's dreams and reality seems almost unbridgeable. But she is brave, warm-hearted and prepared to work as hard as she needs to, so maybe there's a chance? And if there's a chance, then Mia won't give up.

Mia's feisty charisma is central to the plot and its power to compel. Mia didn't just charm me, she's captivated every Year 6 I've lent this to (and it was one of those very special titles that quickly go viral). Although the narrative is hard-hitting - often sad and sometimes shocking - yet it's suffused with warmth and humour so it's never depressing.

The random collection of regular inhabitants of the motel - the weeklies - are all down on their luck for different reasons. An important thread running through the book is how much humans share when we forget to remember the things that divide us. And in the end, there is an uplifting message about the power of hope and kindness.

Front Desk is a powerful, absorbing read that deals with big themes with a light touch - and absolutely one of my top favourites to recommend readers aged 10+.

384 pages / Reviewed by Louisa Farrow, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 11+


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