A review by oceansofnovels
The Passing Playbook, by Isaac Fitzsimons

medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

4.5

There are so many little things in this book that I absolutely love. Our main character, Spencer, is a trans guy. After being bullied for being trans at his old school, he moves to a new school where he goes stealth (doesn't disclose his trans identity). 

Spencer is such a great character, and on his first day at the QSA (Queer Straight Alliance) he uses his passing privilege to stand guard outside the men's bathroom so that another trans student, Riley, can use the bathroom without having to worry about any cis guys coming in. 

Theo, Spencer's younger brother, is autistic. I adore the relationship between them, Spencer genuinely cares about his little brother and that's such a great thing to see, especially when I've read so many books where the autistic sibling is treated like a burden. Theo is definitely not a burden, and despite the age difference, Spencer seems to really enjoy spending time with Theo. 

I had mixed feelings about Spencer's parents throughout the story, at times they seemed so wonderful and supportive, but at other times it was almost like they didn't really see Spencer as a boy. Luckily, by the end of the book, it is extremely clear how much they love and support both of their sons, and it's lovely to see. 

The relationship between Spencer and Justice was built really well, it started out a little bit rocky but became something beautiful. It wouldn't be a high school romance without some kind of drama, but it all ends well. The love interest comes from a very religious family who are homophobic, transphobic, etc. and this definitely has an impact on the relationship. I felt really bad for Justice, especially with some of the stuff he had to listen to from his family and people at his church - and that was before they even knew he was gay. 

There are some great friendships throughout this book, Spencer has a best friend named Aiden who he met at a trans camp. Aiden is a pretty cool guy who helps Spencer through some stuff. He's also in a band called The Testostertones, which is the coolest band name ever in my opinion. There's also Riley, who Spencer meets at his school's QSA. Riley is a sweet kid and Spencer repeatedly sticks up for them and quickly befriends them. Spencer's football teammates quickly accept him on to the team and acknowledge how valuable he is as a player. Their friendships build throughout the book and it is incredible to see Spencer bonding with the team, especially as this is something he's wanted for a long time. 

Football is really important to Spencer. He's been playing for most of his life, and now he's finally playing on the boy's team at his school, as he should be. That is, until he's benched because the law says he can't play on a boy's team while there's an F on his birth certificate. As he's not out as trans at his new school, Spencer has a big decision to make - come out and risk losing his friends, or stay benched and miss out on the chance to do what he loves. 

Overall, this book is incredibly heartwarming and the social commentary is spot on. There are some extremely powerful and moving scenes throughout and I can say with certainty that I love this book and will happily read whatever Isaac Fitzsimons writes next. 

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