Front Desk | Kelly Yang


Front Desk by Kelly Yang 

Scholastic Gold, 2018, 298 pages 

Trigger Warnings: discussions of racism, brief instances of violence 

About the Author: Kelly Yang immigrated to America when she was six years old and grew up in Southern California, where she and her parents worked in three different motels. She eventually left the motels and went to college at the age of 13 and law school at the age of 17. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where she majored in Political Science, and Harvard Law School. After law school, she gave up law to pursue her passion of writing and teaching children writing. She is the founder of The Kelly Yang Project (, a leading writing and debating program for kids in Asia. She is also a columnist for the South China Morning Post and has been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Atlantic. Kelly is the mother of three children and splits her time between Hong Kong and San Francisco. 


Twitter: @kellyyanghk

Instagram: @kellyyanghk

“My parents told me that America would be this amazing place where we could live in a house with a dog, do whatever we want, and eat hamburgers til we were red in the face. So far, the only part that we’ve achieved is the hamburger part, but I was still holding out hope.” 

For 10 years old, Mia Tang has a lot on her plate. After moving from China two years ago, Mia now helps her parents run the Calivista Motel in California, owned by the cruel Mr. Yao. With dreams of being a writer, Mia works hard both in the classroom and at home, constantly inventing new ways to improve the family business while manning the front desk. Things get complicated when her parents begin hiding immigrants fleeing injustice, and trouble finds its way to the Calivista—all while Mr. Yao continues to exploit her family for profit. If this is supposed to be the land of freedom and equality, then why is her newfound life in America so hard? But with a courageous spirit and a lot of determination, nothing can stop Mia from helping others and reaching for her dreams.  

Inspired in-part by her own life, Yang’s debut novel, Front Desk, is a middle-grade tale that explores poverty, immigration, and racism in America. Alongside an unflinching examination of privilege, Yang interweaves delightful humor with several heartfelt character relationships. With her quick wit and steadfast compassion, Yang crafts a singular protagonist in (my personal hero) Mia Tang. Showcasing the power of empathy and community, Yang will inspire readers to stand up alongside Mia and fight for a better future. 

Mia’s story continues this fall with Three Keys (also by Scholastic), the sequel to Front Desk! And don’t miss Kelly Yang’s young adult debut, Parachutes (Katherine Tegen Books), this May. 

PRR Writer, Hannah Miller  

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