Front Desk was one of my all-time MG reads since I could relate to it so much as a Chinese-born Canadian. So of course I couldn’t wait for the sequel. Here are my thoughts about Three Keys!
Mia Tang thinks she’s going to have the best year ever.
She and her parents are the proud owners of the Calivista Motel, Mia gets to run the front desk with her best friend, Lupe, and she’s finally getting somewhere with her writing! But as it turns out, sixth grade is no picnic…
1. Mia’s new teacher doesn’t think her writing is all that great.
2. The motel is struggling, and Mia has to answer to the Calivista’s many, many worried investors.
3. A new immigration law is looming and if it passes, it will threaten everything—and everyone—in Mia’s life.
It’s a roller coaster of challenges, and Mia needs all of her determination to hang on tight. But if anyone can find the key to getting through turbulent times, it’s Mia Tang!
I loved how this book talked about an important issue—California was on the verge of passing a bill to deport undocumented immigrants—and it was able to translate the issue into a story that was understandable for children.
I liked the characters in this book and watching them transform and learn. Even the secondary characters were more than what met the eye, including Mia’s English teacher and her mother.
I loved the theme of the book—sometimes the world is unfair, but never underestimate your power as an individual to make a difference.
As with Front Desk, I loved being able to relate to Mia as she reflected on her identity. Although she was born in China and just recently immigrated to America, there were aspects of American culture that stuck with her, like using forks instead of chopsticks and eating ice cream instead of shaved ice.
Although I agreed with the overall message of the book, and I think it was released at a time that was appropriate, this book felt a bit too political for me and it wasn’t the light and fun read that I had expected.
Some of the character interactions felt forced. One example was Jason (Mia’s rival in the first book) who suddenly wanted to be friends.
Overall it was an enjoyable book with an important message packaged up in a middle grade story.