Winner of the Asian / Pacific American Award for Children's Literature!
* "Many readers will recognize themselves or their neighbors in these pages." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Mia Tang has a lot of secrets.
Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.
Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they've been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed.
Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language?
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, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?
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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.