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New York Times bestselling author Kelly Yang Virtual Visit to the Middle School

The Middle School had the opportunity to hear from award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelly Yang on February 7 during a virtual visit. Many students have read and enjoyed books from her Front Desk series. Kelly immigrated to America when she was 6 years old and grew up in Southern California, where she and her parents worked in three different motels. She went to college at the age of 13 and law school at the age of 17. She is a graduate of the University of California Berkeley and Harvard Law School.

Kelly Yang virtual guest author

During her visit, she described her experience moving to America as a young girl and growing up as a Chinese American immigrant who helped run the front desk of the motel where her parents worked. She also explained how she always enjoyed writing and started out writing smaller pieces including an interview with the Chinese Women’s World Cup team when she was a teenager and how she then transitioned to writing books as an adult. She encouraged students to read and write by sharing some of her favorite books. She spoke about how reading has impacted her and the power of the written word. When describing her novels, she shared with the students how she uses aspects of her own life experiences in her fictional stories. Kelly ended by answering lots of student questions and reminding them to follow their dreams.

Kelly Yang Books

Front Desk

This first book in the Front Desk series is based on Kelly Yang’s own experiences. It tells the powerful story of Mia, an immigrant from China who lives in the motel her parents manage. While her parents clean rooms and solve problems, she runs the front desk and helps customers. Mia loves writing but since English is not her first language, her parents push her to focus on math. Mia continues to pursue her passion for writing even when it is difficult and ultimately it is her writing that helps her family and friends.

Three Keys

This second book in the series continues with Mia’s story but now her family owns the motel she lives in and is learning the challenges of having investors and business owners. Mia continues to navigate English being her second language as well as the impact of immigration laws on her family, friends, and community. The book also shares the story of her friend Jason who has a passion for cooking and wants to be a chef, but his parents don’t see that as a viable career option and are having a difficult time supporting him.

Room to Dream

The third book in the series shows Mia finally traveling back to China to visit her family. During her visit, she sees how much Beijing and her family have changed in the short time that she has been gone and begins thinking about the changes in her own life.

Key Player

In the fourth book of the series, the Women’s World Cup is in California and US and China are playing in the finals. Mia is confronted with both parts of her identity competing against each other and increasing discrimination in her town. She is also trying to save her spot in a journalism camp and avoid a bad grade in PE by interviewing the women’s soccer team. She travels all around town looking for soccer players and her opportunity for the interview of a lifetime.

New From Here

This novel is set during the COVID-19 pandemic and includes an aspect of Kelly’s own experiences with her family during the pandemic. The family in the story quickly leaves Hong Kong for California where they think they will be safe. Then the children must navigate online school, being separated from family, and their mom getting laid off from her job all while facing the realities of Covid-19.

Finally Seen

This book will be published on February 28 and after hearing Kelly Yang speak about it today, I know many students and teachers can’t wait to read it.