5th Grade and Up
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?
This book got me out of my reading slump. I started reading around 9 p.m. and finished around midnight. That’s the latest I’ve ever stayed up reading a book. It has a nice flow and lots of short chapters that encourage you to keep reading to find out what happens next.
Many things that happened in this story happened to the author, Kelly Yang, in real life. Kelly Yang’s family immigrated from China when she was a young girl and she grew up in California. She helped her parents manage several motels from the time she was eight-years-old to when she was 12-years-old. She eventually left the motels and went to college at the age of thirteen and is a graduate of UC Berkley and Harvard Law School. She’s doing quite well, don’t you think?
I will give you a bit of a warning. This story contains some serious subjects and none of it is sugarcoated. The fact is none of these things should be sugarcoated in the first place. I’ll let you find out for yourself what I’m talking about here.
This story isn’t just all serious issues, it’s about Mia’s growing passion for English and writing. I find it very impressive that Mia can understand two whole languages, especially considering that those two languages are Chinese and English. For one thing, English has a lot of weird sayings and phrases when you think about it. We say things like “Shotgun!” when we call dibs on the front seat of the car and “That is sick!” when we think something is cool. It’s kind of understandable that Mia’s mom wants her to concentrate more on math (the stereotype ‘all Asians are good at math’ makes a cameo). Numbers are numbers, no matter where you’re from.
Check out the Author’s Note at the back of the book to learn more about Kelly Yang and what life was like for Chinese immigrates in the 1990’s.
This weeks’ Weird but True Fact about China
8 is a lucky number in China: More than 300,000 couples in the country got married on 8/08/08.