Kelly Yang’s voice offers a bright, fresh perspective within her debut novel for young adults, Front Desk. Based primarily on the true events of Yang’s childhood, the story offers an honest depiction of what life is like for modern-day immigrants. In Front Desk, Mia Tang and her parents are recent Chinese immigrants to the United States, and every day they are fighting for the freedom and opportunities that life in American has to offer. However, life in America has come with challenge after challenge. Long hours, horrible conditions, and pennies for pay are just the being of the difficulties that the Tang Family has to face.
Front Desk’s plot really starts to develop when the Tang Family accepts the position as live-in hotel managers at the Calivista Motel. The promises that are initially offered at the Calivista Motel are soon shattered when its owner, Mr. Yao, shows his true, selfish and greedy, colors. At every turn, his swindling ways take more and more away for the Tang’s as they continue to fight to survive.
The heart of this story focuses on young Mia Tang. In her effort to help her family, Mia runs the front desk of Calivista Motel. It is Mia’s drive, personality, and voice that made me fall in love with this story. It is clear the hardships of life in America haven’t stolen her spirit as she still holds on tightly to her dreams of becoming a great writer. (Of course, you got your dream, Kelly Yang! Your spirit reigns through your character of Mia Tang). Combined with the kindness, dignity, and compassion of the entire Tang Family, this story just tugs at your heartstrings with every new page.