Published by Knights Of, 2022.
Key Player is the fourth book in the excellent Front Desk series. I’ve previously read and enjoyed the first book, Front Desk, and so I was excited to catch up again with Mia and her friends. Initially I was a bit worried that I might struggle with plot gaps as I hadn’t read books two and three. However, Key Player recaps on all the important plot points from the earlier books so it was no problem jumping ahead in the series. It was great to be reunited with familiar characters (Hank, Lupe, Jason and Mr Yao in particular) and to join Mia on the next stage of her journey.
Football fever is in the air and Mia is raring to go! Her two worlds come together when Team China and Team USA both make it to the FIFA Women’s World Cup final in California. How will she pick a side?
A low grade in PE pulls into question whether she’ll make it to journalism camp that summer. As strong-willed as ever, Mia will do whatever it takes to achieve her goal. She needs to secure an exclusive interview with the Chinese football team for the school newspaper, all whilst juggling the challenges of life at home; her parents are trying to buy a house of their own, and Mr Yao is back as co-owner for the motel.
In many ways it’s a typical story about high school kids – dealing with friendships, crushes, bullying, and hopes and dreams. Yet Key Player, just like the books before it, explores some much heavier themes too. Racism, and prejudice towards immigrant families, are at the heart of the book. And this time we see Mia really wrestling with the two sides of her identity: her Chinese heritage and her American-ness. She grapples with the notion of being “all-American” and wonders whether the two sides of her character can co-exist.
Key Player is an inspiring story which shows that, despite bumps in the road, ambition and resilience are essential to achieving your goals. There are important messages too about standing up against exploitation and there’s excellent examination of the double standards applied to men and women.
Suitable for children aged 8+
Thank you to Knights Of for sending me this book to review.