Mama and Papa Have a Store invites readers into the lives of a Chinese family living and working in Guatemala. Told from the point of view of a young Chinese girl, her story is one that perpetuates the idea of resilience and the notion of making the best out of a life situation. Throughout the story the girl opens up to the reader about the events that take place throughout the day in her neighborhood. Having the responsibility of looking after her parent’s shop, her mind is filled with curiosity and her face is lit up with joy from the many people of different cultural backgrounds that stop by the shop throughout the day. As this is happening, she overhears the many loud conversations between the people reminiscing of the life back home and realizes that life isn’t all that different in the place she’s from to the place where she lives now. Living a very simple life without any type of technology, her family finds enjoyment in casual interactions within their shop through family gatherings and the family rituals of operating a family business.
One day when it rains, the electricity in the shop goes out. But the protagonist refuses to let this dampen her spirits, and begins entertaining her customers with a shadow puppet show along with her siblings. As the rain stops and the day comes to an end, her family is assured of today’s victory. Not worrying about what tomorrow might bring, she sings and dances the night away to the tunes of her father’s abacus. Through this book’s unique and rich multiculturalism, it sends a clear message that home is where the heart is.