A review by megelizabeth
The Passing Playbook, by Isaac Fitzsimons

emotional hopeful medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix


 “Listen, here’s the thing: People like you and me are going to have to work a million times harder, be a million times better, and do it without upsetting anybody in order to be successful. It’s not fair, but that’s just how it is."

I thoroughly enjoyed and adored this book. The main character, Spencer, is interesting and feels very real, and I loved getting to explore his relationships and to see him grow as a person. The developments in his relationships with his parents and with new friend/maybe more, Justice, are done well, and I also really loved the friendships he forms with his team members and how wonderfully and non-stereotypically these teenage male friendships are presented.

This isn't an easy read; Spencer and other characters have to deal with a lot of difficult and just awful things, and there are a lot of conversations about such things and about the often unfortunate experiences of trans people and people of colour. I found these themes to be addressed well, though please bear in mind that I'm talking as a white, cis person - I'd definitely recommend checking out own-voices reviews. For me, I found there to be a perfect amount of angst, tension, and drama, coupled with enough hope not to finish the book feeling entirely soul-destroyed and instead to finish it with feelings of bittersweetness and subtle hope.

My only real criticism of this book is that it feels like it's set over too short a span of time. I have no concept of what constitutes a football season, but I got the sense that it's supposed to be set over the course of one, and while that makes sense, to me it meant that everything feels like it's developing a bit too quickly, and I think setting it over the course of a school year would've made things seem more natural. There's also one thing that's alluded to but is never really addressed, and it bugged me that we never get clarification. 

All that being said, though, I still absolutely loved this book, and would highly, highly recommend it.

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