G. Bianco, 2019
In The Passing Playbook, debut author Isaac Fitzsimons introduces readers to a shy transgender teen who just wants to be a normal teenager. For fans of Love, Simon, this book, which comes out on June 1st, will have you immersed deep in what it feels like to have a secret and feel like you’re always on the outside.
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.
This book was such a great read! Even though I found it to be on the quicker side, this book was still packed with messages about inclusivity, acceptance, and what it’s like being transgender. I think I would’ve liked more details about what happened to Spencer before the events of the book, but I still liked the way the story flowed. Fitzsimmons also did a great job of showcasing examples of both good and bad coming out experiences seen through different characters.
This novel’s themes, which included being the new kid, first relationships, figuring out who you are, and transgender rights, were all relevant to today’s world and will allow people to either feel seen or feel compassion and understanding for those who deal with these kinds of things in real life. Plus, this book basically takes place on a soccer field! So if you’re looking for a modern sports story, then you’ll love reading about Spencer and the whole Cowboys soccer team!
Overall, this YA debut is fun, reflective, and is a great quick read to add to your TBR this summer (just in time for Pride Month)! Young adult readers will really enjoy this book.
*I received an ARC from Penguin Teen in exchange for my honest opinion.
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