What It Is About: Mia's family are Chinese immigrants. They have come to America for a new life and new opportunities. They realize how difficult it is to make a go of it. When her parents get a job managing the Calivista Motel, Mia thinks their luck is about to change. Mr. Yao is the owner and makes life for Mia's family unbearable. It is bad enough that life at the motel is hard, but Mr. Yao's son attends Mia's school and isn't too kind to her. Mia's parents let her take over the duties of the front desk. It is here that Mia meets the "regulars" and welcomes the newbies. When she finds out about a writing contest in which her family could "win" a motel of their own, Mia makes it her mission to raise the entry fee and win the motel for her parents. This task becomes difficult when Mia is faced with difficult decisions, mean people, racism, and doing everything in her power to make it in America.
What I Thought Of It: I was thinking this was going to be a light-hearted middle-grade story. I was quite surprised how deep, meaningful, and real life this tale was. I appreciated how the author was able to tell a story about a Chinese American immigrant with such grace, thought, and realism. It was refreshing to read about real-life issues that faced them with such honesty. Mia was an interesting, fun, and spunky character that I enjoyed reading about and getting to know. For as many positive and wonderful characters that were presented in the plot, there were just as many "evil", unlikable, and antagonists. Many life-lessons presented themselves in the pages of the book and would lead to such deep and wonderful discussion.
Who Should Read It: I have already marked this title as a book that I want to book talk in the fall of 2018. It is an important story that all young readers should be exposed to. This book should be in all fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classrooms. It would be a strong read aloud or excellent to put in the individual hands of a reader. Of course based on previous comments, adult readers are also finding it a very satisfying story. Happy Reading!
Rating: 4 STARS out of 5 Stars