The Beautiful Game


By Yamile Saied Méndez

Formats and Prices




$22.99 CAD

A powerful story about family, fútbol, and playing like a girl, perfect for fans of Front Desk, The Academy, and, Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret from the award-winning author of Furia.

At thirteen years old, Valeria "Magic" Salomón is already the best soccer player her town has ever seen. She has talent in spades and an abuelo whose tough-love coaching and lessons about “strength and honor” have made her the star of the Overlords, the top boys’ team in the state. 

But everything changes at the State Cup semi-final when Valeria gets her first period while Wearing. White. Shorts. After her team is unexpectedly eliminated, she goes from their secret weapon to their scapegoat. Soon, she doesn’t have a team at all anymore. She’s not sure she has a relationship with her grandfather either.  

Valeria’s a fighter, however. And with the help of her grandmother and support of her cheerleader BFF, she finds herself on a girls’ team for the first time. But the Amazons aren’t exactly excited to have her there. After all, Valeria’s spent years ignoring their existence. With the next tournament looming on the horizon, Valeria has a month to figure out her place on her new team and learn how to play like a girl. 

The award-winning author of Furia returns to the world of  “the beautiful game” in this uplifting, heartfelt novel about family, self-confidence, and the power of second chances. 

  • "The wonderfully wide-ranging story will appeal to readers both inside the sports sphere and not, and it touches on an incredible variety of topics, all treated with equal importance. Complicated, caring family dynamics and gorgeous friendships that overcome the bumps of adolescence are beautiful to behold. There are also thought-provoking meditations on grief, the immigrant experience, and gendered-sports struggles. Frank (and often funny) discussions of menstruation and period products are another welcome inclusion. An emotional and engaging examination of the fundamentals: family, friendship, and fútbol."
    Booklist, starred review
  • "This tough and resilient protagonist is easy to root for as she talks her way onto a girls’ soccer team, despite having missed the tryouts. The narrative and action flow smoothly as Magic nervously navigates friendships with girls on her new team, adjusts to having a coach who prioritizes teamwork over relying on a hotshot, and navigates changing family dynamics at home. Fast paced and tenderhearted."
    Kirkus Reviews
  • "Méndez (Furia) fluidly combines the challenges of growing up and the pressure of elite athletic competition in this winning novel."
    Publishers Weekly
  • Méndez weaves Magic into this brilliant book. Middle grade writing at its best!
    Donna Barba Higuera, Newbery and Pura Belpré-winning author of The Last Cuentista
  • Fun, relatable, and genuine. Méndez laces up her cleats and brilliantly captures the emotional rollercoaster that is adolescence. This gem of a book will have you cheering from start to finish—a true game-changer.
    Ernesto Cisneros, Pura Belpré award-winning author of Efrén Divided
  • “This is a story of girl power from the inside out.”
    Kirby Larson, Newbery Honor author of Hattie Big Sky
  • The Beautiful Game will have you cheering. The perfect story for anyone who has ever felt scared of showing up as their full selves.
    Andrea Beatriz Arango, Newbery honor author of Iveliz Explains it All
  • The Beautiful Game is a beautiful coming of age story. I couldn’t put it down.
    Aisha Saeed, New York Times bestselling author of Amal Unbound and Omar Rising
  • Fútbol fans, rejoice! Yamile Saied Méndez scores the winning goal with this heartfelt story of a young girl learning about herself, her family, and her friends. Lace up your cleats and get ready to cheer for Valeria!
    Adrianna Cuevas, Pura Belpré honor author of The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez
  • The Beautiful Game is pitch perfect! In this heartwarming tale, fútbol isn't just a game—it's a way of life.
    Angela Cervantes, Pura Belpré honor author of Lety Out Loud
  • Tender and true, this story has all the sparkle and shine of a modern classic.
    Corey Ann Haydu, author of The Widely Unknown Myth of Apple and Dorothy
  • A story like the best of fútbol games — full of surprising turns, well-earned triumphs, and people you can't help rooting for. Yamile Méndez writes the same way that Valeria plays her sport: with her whole, huge heart.
    Jennifer Ziegler, author of Worser
  • Spunky and spirited, Valeria “Magic” Salomón, will win your heart when she discovers the beauty of trusting her team, her family, and, most importantly, herself!
    Guadalupe García McCall, Pura Belpré award winning author of Under the Mesquite
  • For fans of the beautiful game and beautiful family stories, readers will root for Magic. An absolute winner!
    Joy McCullough, award-winning author of Code Red
  • A lovely tale about different kinds of love: love for a sport, love between friends and love, however complicated, within families.
    Padma Venkatraman, Walter Award-winning author of The Bridge Home

On Sale
Sep 17, 2024
Page Count
336 pages

Yamile Saied Méndez

Yamile Saied Méndez

About the Author

Yamile Saied Méndez is the author of many books for young readers, including Furia, a Reese's YA Book Club selection and the 2021 Inaugural Pura Belpré Young Adult Gold Medalist. She was born and raised in Rosario, Argentina and currently lives in Utah. An Inaugural Walter Dean Myers Grant recipient, she is also a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She’s a founding member of Las Musas, a marketing collective of Latine authors. You can find her online at or on Instagram @yamilesmendez.

Learn more about this author