Book Review – The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons

Title: The Passing Playbook

Author: Isaac Fitzsimons

Publisher: Dial

Publication date: June 1st, 2021

304 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Fifteen-year-old Spencer Harris is a proud nerd, an awesome big brother and a Messi-in-training. He’s also transgender. After transitioning at his old school leads to a year of bullying, Spencer gets a fresh start at Oakley, the most liberal private school in Ohio.

At Oakley, Spencer seems to have it all: more accepting classmates, a decent shot at a starting position on the boy’s soccer team, great new friends, and maybe even something more than friendship with one of his teammates. The problem is, no one at Oakley knows Spencer is trans – he’s passing.

So when a discriminatory law forces Spencer’s coach to bench him after he discovers the ‘F’ on Spencer’s birth certificate, Spencer has to make a choice: cheer his team on from the sidelines or publicly fight for his right to play, even if it means coming out to everyone – including the guy he’s falling for.

Review

“First rule of passing…Don’t be different.”

Isaac Fitzsimons, The Passing Playbook

Meet Spencer, a transgender high schooler in Ohio who just transferred to the most liberal private school in the state in order to have a fresh start. Spencer tries really hard to pass to avoid the scrutiny and bullying he experienced at his last school. But he joins the boy’s soccer team and there’s a law that say Spencer can’t play due to being assigned female at birth. Also, he’s falling for Justice – a teammate and the pastor’s son. He may be gay but he’s so far in the closet he’s in Narnia due to his parent’s strict religiosity. Can these two find a way together?

My heart broke for Spencer while he was trying to figure out how to be himself during this book. It has to be so hard to be so young and know people hate you just for how you feel about your identity. Spencer goes through more in this book than I have in my whole life simply because I was born in the gendered body that feels correct for me. I admire his passion for soccer and internal growth in the Gay-Straight Alliance club at school. I also adored the friendship he made with a non-binary student and how they helped each other grow. Justice was a good character, but I wasn’t completely enthralled by him as a love interest. I got really put my finger on why, but he didn’t seem to have a strong personality and you just don’t get to know much about him besides his family.

I listened to this one on audio, and I think the narrator did a great job. Definitely recommend for LGBTQ fans.

Happy reading, folks!

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