Kelly Yang’s Front Desk is one of the best middle-grade reads of 2018

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Front Desk Kelly YangFRONT DESK, by Kelly Yang, Arthur A. Levine Books, May 29, 2018, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)

We like to think we know what’s going on in other people’s lives. That their experiences aren’t so different from our own. The truth is, however, that is far from reality. Front Desk, by Kelly Yang, is the fictionalized account of a 10-year-old’s life as a Chinese immigrant to the United States.

Mia Tang’s parents brought her family to the United States for better opportunity. Never did they imagine they’d end up running a motel or that their daughter would manage the front desk.

Mia doesn’t mind managing the front desk. She like to feel helpful, and she likes the guests. What she does mind are the secrets she has to keep: No child is supposed to be managing a motel front desk, and her parents allow immigrants stay in empty rooms for free.

And then there’s school. Mia wants to be a writer, but her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language. Over the course of a year, Mia works hard and learns that kindness and hard work can lead to amazing things.

Front Desk is one of my favorite middle-grade novels of 2018. You can’t help but fall in love with Mia. She’s bright and caring and her can-do spirit is infectious. And while there are many hardships and heavy themes — poverty, extortion, fraud and racism —Yang has masterfully balanced things with humor. Everything is filtered through Mia’s hopeful yet naïve dreams, adding to the rich flavor of this book.

I highly recommend Front Desk to readers of all ages.

© 2018, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.

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About Author

Jessica Harrison is the main reviewer behind Cracking the Cover. Prior to creating Cracking the Cover, Jessica worked as the in-house book critic for the Deseret News, a daily newspaper in Salt Lake City. Jessica also worked as a copy editor and general features writer for the paper. Following that, Jessica spent two years with an international company as a social media specialist. She is currently a freelance writer/editor. She is passionate about reading and giving people the tools to make informed decisions in their own book choices.

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