The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons

The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons

The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons is a story that is both uplifting and hard-hitting at the same time. As a fan of any book about sports, I was excited for this one, and I appreciated the way it exposes the transphobia that exists within this realm, and within many others. The main character is also strong, and there are many nuanced discussions of identity throughout the book. This is an important read, and an empathetic one, that I am sure many will enjoy.

The Passing Playbook by Isaac FitzsimonsTitle: The Passing Playbook
Author: Isaac Fitzsimons
Publisher: Dial Books
Genres: Contemporary
Publication Date: June 1, 2021
Rating: four-stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

Love, Simon meets Friday Night Lights in this feelgood LGBTQ+ romance about a trans teen torn between standing up for his rights and staying stealth.

'A sharply observant and vividly drawn debut. I loved every minute I spent in this story' - Becky Albertalli

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.

Amazon “Book

❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃


Review: The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons

After being bullied at his old school, Spencer transfers to a private school, where no one knows he’s transgender. He gets recruited for the soccer team, makes some new friends, and everything seems to be going smoothly, but, later on, Spencer’s coach discovers that his birth certificate is marked “female.” Spencer has a decision to make–should he stay silent and remain on the bench, or should he fight for his right to play, even if it means coming out?

❀ Strong Main Character

Spencer is such a strong main character, and I was really rooting for him. I admired the way he isn’t afraid to speak out and stand up for what is right, even though it is difficult, and he inspires others to speak out, as well. He is also a realistic character, and each of his actions feel true to his age–something that is really important to me. I also enjoyed Justice’s character, the captain of the soccer team. He faces his own struggles with being gay in a religious household, but he remains kind, and I loved reading about his relationship with Spencer.

❀ Important themes

This book has some very important themes, and they are each handled with sensitivity. Spencer and Justice are both at different stages in terms of their identity, with the former passing as a cis boy and living with an accepting family, compared to Justice, who needs to conceal his identity to stay safe. This highlights a certain privilege that comes with passing, but more importantly, the book never presents one as more valid than the other. I also appreciated how the story does not focus on educating readers about being trans, but still discusses important issues that trans people continue to face.

❀ A Powerful Story

The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons is a powerful story about standing up for what is right. I enjoyed the sports aspects, and the main character is realistic. While this book is not overwhelmingly heavy, I enjoyed the nuanced discussions of identity and the sensitivity with which each character is written. Those looking for a read that is both uplifting and contains more serious themes will enjoy this one.

About Isaac Fitzsimons

Isaac Fitzsimmons

Isaac Fitzsimons is a lifetime dabbler in the arts. His background includes performing sketch comedy in college, learning how to play three songs on the banjo, and, of course, writing. He currently lives outside Washington, DC, and does research for an arts advocacy nonprofit in the city.

12 thoughts on “The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons

  1. megan allen says:

    Oh wow..this sounds really good! Such an important subject that I am so glad is discussed in today’s conversation. Thanks for sharing this book rec!

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