Ten year-old Mia Tang moved to the US for a better life, a freer life, but so far, it's a life where she runs the front desk of a motel while her parents clean rooms. And she's not even allowed to use the swimming pool.
Based on author Kelly Yang’s real-life experience immigrating to America from China and running a motel with her parents, this novel explores how one little girl overcomes language barriers, discrimination, and her own lack of confidence to find her voice – and use it to make a difference.
This is a sensitive story of tolerance and diversity that will resonate with readers of all cultures who have experienced the challenges of feeling like an outsider.
Yang draws effectively on her own childhood in this lively debut, which offers a candid portrait of one Chinese-American immigrant experience through the eyes of a gutsy, empathetic 10-year-old. In 1993, when Mia Tang's parents become managers of a California motel, she envisions bright times ahead: the motel has a pool, and Disneyland is just down the road. But the mean-spirited motel owner bans her from the pool and cheats her parents out of money they deserve, keeping Disneyland far out of reach. While her parents work tirelessly, Mia takes charge of the front desk and much more. Believing that "sometimes, you have to... be creative to get what you want," and flouting her mother's repeated assertion that Mia's English will never be as proficient as native-born Americans', she writes letters creatively forged to aid others, including an African-American victimized by racial profiling and a Chinese immigrant abused by his boss. Mia's story is one of indefatigable hope and of triumph over injustice, and her voice is genuine and inspiring. Ages 8 12.