A Fascinating Book that Tackles Diversity and Injustice

"I wanted to say to Mr. Lewis that I'd never really played and I didn't intend to start now.  The other part of me wanted to say, 'This is playing.'  I got to run a motel - was there any better way to play?"

Mia and her parents work at a motel owned by mean Mr. Yao, a man who mistreats pretty much anyone he sees.  Hank, one of the five "weeklies" who live at the motel describes Mr. Yao as having "coal for a heart," and Mia and her parents soon find out how true that is.

As motel owners, Mia's parents are often asked by friends to put up other immigrant families; they let them spend the night in some of the empty rooms for free.  Which would create a huge mess if Mr. Yao found out.  The "regulars" don't tell, and Mia learns a lot about her parents' integrity through their generous hearts.

In school, Mia has her own challenges.  She's not a native English speaker, something her mother reminds her she'll never be.  She roils under that description; with the help of her friends, she begins to write letters to correct injustices she sees around her.  You'll cheer her on when her determination grows as her words begin to make an impact.

Lupe, Mia's school friend helps her find her voice against Jason, Mr. Yao's son, and some of the policies at the motel.  This book tackles some heavy themes about living in poverty, extortion, loan sharks, and racism.  It's told in a matter-of-fact way, something that many of your students will appreciate.  And yet, Mia's determination and her dreams for her family to own their own motel carry you through. She makes mistakes left and right, something some of your students will also identify with, but she picks herself back up and keeps trying.

This book is all about the determination, grit, and positive mindset of this young girl, and it would be a welcome addition to any upper elementary or middle school classroom.

If you'd like to look at or purchase the book, you can do so through my Amazon affiliate link below.

If you'd like a novel study guide that you can "print and go" or "upload to Google Classroom and go" click here to go to TeachersPayTeachers.

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