Book Title & Alexandra's Review

Key Player (Front Desk #4) by Kelly Yang

Middle School


The Women’s World Cup is coming to Southern California, and everyone is soccer-crazy – especially Mia Tang! The U.S. is playing China in the finals, and Mia feels like her two identities are finally coming together. Less exciting, though? The fact that her P.E. teacher wants Mia to get out on the soccer field, too – or fall short of the grade she needs to earn a spot at journalism camp. But as always, Mia Tang is ready with a plan: she’ll track down the two women’s teams, interview them, and write an A-grade article for P.E. instead!

It’s not easy, though, finding professional athletes in Pasadena or bringing two identities together, even during a game. As Mia aims for her goals, she’ll have to face prejudice, discrimination, and her own fears. But if anyone can find a way to win, it’s Mia Tang!


To everyone who has ever struggled in P.E., like me


I can relate to Mia’s struggle with P.E.. I have no idea how I managed to pass three years of middle school P.E. and two years of high school P.E.. I especially hated soccer. I remember running back and forth across the field, pretending to participate. I think I might have done better if my anxiety didn’t cause my body to go stiff.


Anyway, just like in the last three books, so much is going on. Here are a few of the many storylines: Women’s World Cup – America vs. China, Mia’s mom coaching Lupe’s math competition team, learning Mr. Yao’s past, and Hank’s burger recipe.


The part on Hank’s burger recipe had me pulling at my hair and yelling, ‘Don’t do it! Don’t do it!’ You know you are deeply enjoying a story when you talk to yourself about it.


Mr. Yao went through some serious character development for the better. I enjoyed learning about Mr. Yao’s past, explaining why he’s so grouchy, and the reasons behind his cruel actions.


It made me sick how worked up people were getting about America vs. China in the Women’s World Cup. The whole us vs. them thing. People were blowing things way out of proportion like the world was going to end if the Chinese team won. Can you tell that I’m not a sports fan? Either way, both teams proved to girls everywhere that they can do anything they set their minds to, no matter how many people say they can’t.


What makes this story so astounding is that it’s based on Kelly Yang’s own experiences during the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1999. I don’t want to spoil the story by giving away any details, but I will say that Kelly Yang gets more and more spectacular with each book. Read the Author’s Note to learn how much of Mia’s story is based on Kelly Yang’s real-life experiences.


I won’t be shocked if Kelly Yang writes a fifth Mia Tang book. Given her extraordinary writing skills, I have a good feeling that Mia Tang’s story is far from over.

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