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Key Player: 11/26/22

Key Player

Key Player by Kelly Yang (2022) is the fourth book in Front Desk series. Mia Tang is desperate for a good grade in PE so she can keep her spot in the journalist's camp held in San Francisco over the summer. She hopes getting an interview with the women's Chinese soccer team can push her grade from a C to an A.

It's 1999 and the women's world cup of soccer is being played in Pasadena's Rose Bowl. I only vaguely remember the excitement as that was the year that Ian and I moved from South Pasadena to Daly City.

Besides the excitement over the world cup, this volume has insight into Jason's father. When Jason wants to be part owner of the Calvista and the restaurant he's running with Hank, he ends up inviting his father back into a position of power over the Tangs and the other co-owners. This time, though, Mia and Jason are armed with the father's childhood diary where they learn how he became the money obsessed perfectionist he is as an adult.

The most fun, though, was following Mia, Jason, and sometimes Hank as they tried to track down the Chinese team. As this is 1999, finding a team isn't as easy as tracking them on social media. Instead it means a lot of phone calls from Anaheim to hotels, motels, and restaurants in Pasadena. It means legwork and some out of the box thinking.

What makes Mia's success all the more extraordinary is the fact that her life is heavily inspired by the author's own childhood. The afterword always includes photos from her life. This time it's her story how she found the team and met them.

Five stars

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