The Three Keys

The Three Keys cover
The Three Keys by Kelly Yang

by Kelly Yang

Scholastic, 2020
288 pages

Ages 9-12

Things are looking up for Mia Tang and her Chinese immigrant family, who recently purchased the Calivista Motel in Anaheim, until Mia learns about Proposition 187. If passed, the ballot initiative in the upcoming California election would prohibit undocumented immigrants’ access to public education, health care, and other services. Mia is dismayed by some of the racist and anti-immigrant things she’s hearing as part of the campaign. Meanwhile, her developing friendship with Jason Yao is causing tension with her best friend, Lupe Garcia, who reveals her late mother once worked for Jason’s family. When Lupe’s father is jailed returning from Mexico, where he’d gone for his mother’s funeral, the challenges faced by undocumented families becomes personal for Mia. Both optimist and activist, aspiring writer Mia, who knows how hard Lupe’s father works, the challenges immigrants face, and the sacrifices most, including her parents, have made, organizes an informal immigrant support group at school and joins the effort to help Lupe’s father. She also begins challenging the racism and misinformation she’s hearing in her sixth-grade classroom. An engaging civics lesson, this follow-up to Front Desk features the same light touch and buoyant spirit, even as it illuminates the devastating impact anti-immigrant policies and racist attitudes have on individual lives. In an author’s note, Yang recalls vivid memories of Proposition 187, which was on the ballot when she was ten, in 1994. She based the hate crimes in this story on actual incidences that occurred during the campaign. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center