Mia Tang is 10 years old, and the new front desk clerk at the Calivista Motel in California. Mia and her family are immigrants to America from China. Her parents have worked many years at many tough jobs since arriving in America, but believe their dream has come true when they get jobs managing the Calivista. The only trouble with their dream is their new boss Mr. Yao, who is mean and keeps finding ways to take money from Mia's family's paycheck.
Mia finds out at school about a chance for her family to win their own motel, but she must write an essay explaining why she and her family would be the best choice. Mia has to balance her life with school, work, and friends, all while trying to keep Mr. Yao happy. It is a tough job, but Mia thinks she can do it all.
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