The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons
Release Date: June 3, 2021
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.
The Passing Playbook is a young adult sports romance with a trans protagonist. It brings up important conversations around trans rights and how even though things are changing in our society we still have a long way to go. It also highlights the importance of allyship in supporting this change.
The romance between Spencer and Justice was super sweet and I loved how it unfolded throughout the book. It was especially interesting to see how they both navigated Justice's very religious family with their discriminatory and harmful views of the queer community. This makes you root for them even more!
I read this book while watching the Euros 2020 and I loved the football element in this story. Even if football isn't your thing, the writing style and plot is so easy to follow that you find yourself getting into the sports scenes more than you think! The dialogue flowed nicely and was endlessly entertaining. One of my favourite parts about this book was how it challenges laws that discriminate against trans people and how simple things such as gender neutral toilets being available should not be a luxury, it should be a necessity.
There is great representation in this book featuring non-binary, autistic, bisexual, and gay characters. Spencer's family are also very supportive of his transition and identity, which was so heart-warming to read about. I read Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve recently which featured the opposite side to this, which is having a family who don't want to accept who you are. So it was really great to read about a different kind of experience. The author definitely takes a positive outlook on being your true authentic self and I think that worked perfectly for what the book was trying to achieve.
The Passing Playbook was overall an unexpected delight that gave me warm and fuzzy feelings and left me full of hope for these characters and the changes they are striving to make in the world; no matter how small. This is an unmissable YA contemporary this summer with a first love romance, important topics, and delightful characters.
4.5 Falling Books
Thank you to Penguin and Bookstagrammers.com for providing a review copy