Room to Dream
by Yang, Kelly

While visiting family in China, Mia Tang witnesses some of the big changes the country is going through, which makes her think about the changes in her own life that need to be dealt with.

Kelly Yang is the author of Front Desk, which won the 2019 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature and was chosen a Best Book of the Year by multiple publications, including NPR, the Washington Post, and the New York Public Library. Kelly's family immigrated to the United States from China when she was a young girl, and she grew up in California, in circumstances very similar to those of Mia Tang. She eventually left the motels and went to college at the age of 13, and is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School. She is the founder of The Kelly Yang Project, a leading writing and debating program for children in Asia and the United States. Her writing has been published in the South China Morning Post, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Atlantic. To learn more about her and the Front Desk books, visit

*Starred Review* Chinese American Mia Tang returns in this entertaining, well-paced third installment in the beloved Front Desk series. Mia and her best friends, Lupe and Jason, are now in seventh grade and are each dealing with how to find their own path. Lupe is now taking advanced classes at the high school while Jason pursues his culinary passion. Mia, meanwhile, is trying to find her way as a writer-while also figuring out how to deal with an unwanted kiss from Jason. When she goes on a six-week trip to China with her parents and family friend Hank, they learn how much China and their family have changed. After returning to California, they are shocked to learn that their motel business is getting crushed by a huge, new, corporate-run motel next door. Mia must learn how to use her voice, both for herself and so she can stand up for small local businesses. Flawed, strong, and brave, Mia is a believable and relatable heroine. Yang sensitively presents issues like racism, consent, and gentrification in an accessible and engaging manner. An author's note, pointing out autobiographical aspects of the book and showcasing a sampling of early stories, add even more richness. While this is enjoyable on its own, the adventures of Mia and her family and friends are best treasured in series order. Highly recommended for all middle-grade collections. Grades 4-7. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

A holiday in China reignites Mia's love of writing, while troubles with the Calivista Motel develop her journalism skills. Tackling complex issues of gentrification, corporate power, racism, and even an unwanted kiss, Chinese American seventh grader Mia Tang matures, exhibiting endearing resilience and advocating for herself and small businesses. The first third of the book explores the emotions and confusion of reuniting with family back in Beijing. Many immigrant children will recognize the awkwardness Mia feels both in America and also in her country of birth: "At school I wasn't white enough. Here I wasn't Chinese enough." Mia finds a solution-using her talent with words to write a column in a Chinese children's newspaper. The concept of saving face is introduced, as Mia's parents are mortified by the personal information she shares in her weekly column. When the Tangs return home, there is trouble for the Calivista Motel. What Mia saw happening in Beijing-small mom-and-pop shops being forced out of business-is also happening in California. Can an independent business win a fight with a big corporation? The livelihood of the whole Calivista community hangs in the balance. The complex and realistic relationships Mia has with Lupe and Jason show these friends developing into an interesting and talented trio. The author's note, including writing and photos from Yang's youth, shares the remarkable autobiographical details. Fans of this series that keeps going strong will devour this latest entry. (Historical fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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