'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 8 November 2021

Guest Review: Room To Dream

Room To Dream by Kelly Yang is a novel where we see the Tang family, visiting their hometown in China, after 5  years of moving to California.

Mia's vacation with her family and Hank to Beijing was what reignited her love to write. Whereas trouble with their motel in the US was what made her develop her journalism skills.

We see maturity in the 7th-grader, as she tackles various issues. Some of them being urban renewal, corporate influence, racism, and an unexpected kiss. Mia Tang is a Chinese-American, who moved to California with her parents when she was 7 years old. Exhibiting determination and resilience qualities, she stands up for herself and her family.

The third part of this book explores Mia's trip to China, where she meets her family and her favorite cousin, Shen. Feeling out of place, Mia deals with talks about her tanned skin. She is also reprimanded for not being able to use chopsticks properly.

'In school, I wasn't white enough. Here I wasn't Chinese enough'.

Through this sentence, Mia expresses her feelings of not belonging. In the US, she doesn't feel American, and in China, she doesn't feel Chinese enough. 

Mia, due to her exploration of herself as well as the city, finds her passion to write again. She publishes an article in a Chinese editorial. In the children's column, she writes about her feelings on the matter. To which Mia's parents are alarmed, as she has shared such private feelings publicly.

When the Tang family and Hank return home, they are all faced with difficulties in the family motel. What they experienced in Beijing, is also happening in California. Their difficulties with small shops closing. And to add to it, Mia, Lupe, and Jason's friendship face complex intricacies. Their pragmatic problems take an interesting turn, Strengthening their complex relationship in turn. Shaping them into a strong and talented trio. 

Room To Dream handles important topics without taking a heavier tone. It has a cast of characters representing races like Chinese, Mexican and African-American.

At first, when Mia was younger, offhand comments about sexism and racism didn't bother her. But now, after moving to America, she feels no longer ignorant towards them. It makes her feel itchy. Her views on them have changed, shaping her character and personality as fierce. Comments about her tanned skin made her offended as it would anyone else.

But even after all that, Mia is undoubtedly proud of her Chinese heritage and culture. Respecting the old Chinese homes And remembering a popsicle seller out of her school. She loves the food and has immense respect for people from the country. Her trip to Beijing ignites this nostalgia.

Room To Dream is the third in the Front Desk series by Kelly Yang. Learn more about Kelly through our 12 Curly Questions interview with her.

Title: Room To Dream
Author: Kelly Yang
Publisher: Scholastic Press, $30.40
Publication Date: September 2021
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781338621129
For ages: 8 - 12
Type: Middle Grade Fiction

Netra Surana is a digital marketer, getting her masters in business administration. Along with that, she also blogs on a daily basis on her website. Click here to read her book reviews and recommendations. Follow her on instagram for more.