Cover Image: The Passing Playbook

The Passing Playbook

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Member Reviews

I loved this queer, YA romance, it was so wholesome and easy to read. 

This book talks openly about the discrimination Trans teens still experience every single day, but also looks at how they can fight against it. I thought it was funny and I really liked the characters and the way in which they developed, and their relationships grew. It's a positive and gently written book, which has a style that is easily accessible to its target YA audience. It did seem that some aspects were resolved too easily, but the positive messages in this are just too good to ignore. This book also tackles toxic masculinity and the effects it has on children, whilst covering the issue of inclusion in sport.

Although I loved this book, it's only a 3 star for me as I did feel that some of the football (soccer) aspects were too in-depth and took up a lot of page time, when the more relationship and society-driven aspects and issues could be covered more.
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I absolutely adored this book. It was funny and witty and emotional and so utterly important. The writing was lovely and so smooth it made you feel like you were within the story, rooting for our boy. Absolutely gorgeous!
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Following an incident at his previous school, Spencer’s plan is to go stealth in his new life and not let anyone know that he’s trans. He focuses instead on football – despite his parents’ reservations about letting him play on the boys’ team – and on his new friend and potential boyfriend, Justice. However, all of this is thrown into question when an antiquated rule forces him to decide whether or not to come out and stand up for his rights. 

This is a gentle and positive book, written in a straightforward style that is accessible to younger teens. Occasionally issues seem to be resolved rather too easily without much dramatic tension, but overall there is a good balance of realistic challenges faced by the protagonist, and positive support from loving (albeit imperfect) parents and new friends. Spencer's friendship and subsequent relationship with Justice provides a lovely example of non-toxic masculinity. However, the really ground-breaking aspect is that it is a rom-com style love story with a trans protagonist, whose trans status is fully accepted by his love interest without ever being a point of conflict. Spencer is also mixed-race, which is dealt with sensitively in passing. We need more books like this!
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Well this was one of the most wholesome YA books I have read in a long time. Im personally not a big fan of american fiction, or football and yet I have flown through this book. This should be in every library and every school as I think this is a manual for how to behave!
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Oh my God, I love this book!! It is one of those books that I want to put in the hands of every single person! It is so well-written, with utterly realistic characters and a hold-your-heart sweet romance at its core. It talks plainly about the discrimination Trans teens still experience every single day, but also about how to fight against it. Inherently hopeful and with a beautiful ending, this book is sure to make you smile, and I honestly could not recommend it more!
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"Whether you come out tomorrow or in five years, or thirty years, I guarantee that the fight will still be going on in some form or another. And I promise that when you join us, we'll welcome you with open arms."

The book follows 15-year-old Spencer as he moves to a new school where nobody knows he’s transgender.I loved the balance in this story .The romance was cute and messy at the same time.There are some great friendships throughout this book , and this proves that this story is so much more than a romance.
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For a debut novel, The Passing Playbook is absolutely fantastic. There is nothing bad about it except that it ends. It features characters that every reader will be able to relate to in some capacity, some you connect so easily with, which is always lovely in a book. Yes, there are sports in it but it doesn't spoil the story or make you like or connects with the characters and their personal stories.
An absolute must-read!
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I am not a sporty person at all, but for some reason I do love reading books about sports. I think I just found a new favourite!
The Passing Playbook is not only a book about sports. It touches so many other, very important subjects. 
The main character, Spencer, is trans. He joins a soccer team in his new school, make new friends, falls in love, and makes a huge change. For himself and for others.
What I really liked about this book is that it shows that people can grow. That people can learn. 
I loved the ending as well, so sweet and hopeful.
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i did not finish this book, i found the writing a bit tedious and the concept seemed a bit overdone. it was not necessarily my cup of tea but i think others may enjoy it more than me
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A fantastic debut LGBTQIA+ YA novel by Isaac Fitzsimons!

This is the first purposefully chosen LGBTQIA+ book I have decided to read this year so far. It is also the first YA book I have chosen to read this year so far. It will now be the impossibly high benchmark that I will rate lower all others that I read for the rest of the year. I said what I said!

The cover art drew me in instantly - I am a manga and graphic novel reader mainly, so I love these kinds of covers that are graphic and yet show elements of the story. These kinds of covers are always so accessible and I really felt after finishing the book that it was accurate, too. It evoked the emotional tone of the book, and so I loved it all the more!

The premise of the book was what really drew me to it - sports, romance, and LGBTQIA+ themes. Perfect!

Spencer Harris is starting at a new school. He is nervous about fitting in, finding friends, joining the soccer team, and the butterflies in his stomache when a cute guy smiles at him! He is also nervous about passing, because Spencer is Trans. Transitioning at his old school led to some extreme bullying and a move to a new school, a new start, and everything seems to be going well as long as Spencer keeps his head down and doesn't make waves. But, how long can that continue when you are ace at soccer, catching feels for your teammate, and anything but a wallflower?

I really had to look hard for anything negative to say about this novel. And my only gripe was the ending - it came too soon! I wanted to keep reading about Spencer and Justice. I want to know more about all the other characters - so If Isaac Fitzsimons wants to write a sequel - that would be great, thanks!

On to the positives - first, this is very well written with very competent use of language. The adults were suitably adult in tone with the correct smattering of lame dad jokes, the teens had the right amount of teenspeak, slang, and angsty drama! And the structure of the novel built the tension to the plot and the tension to the romance.
 Second, the charcters were fantastic and their development throughout was key to the plot of this novel. However, the side and supporting characters were also just as endearing and lovable as the main characters. There was a range of diversity of charcters that felt natural and inclusive and also totally devoid of performativity (is that even a word?) that I have felt in other works pitched as LGBTQIA+ in theme.
 In saying that, I also think that the setting was very realistic. The modern school setting is one I am familiar with, and the way that the students navigate this space felt very real and natural. The inclusion of queer charcters permeating throughout was also real and didn't feel forced or put upon. I felt this was more a reflection of my lived experience and appreciated it. The difficulties that the characters experienced felt very relevant to people living RIGHT NOW! The changes in laws, the role backs in rights and protections for LGBTQIA+, has been something society has been and continues to deal with, but the positivity of those in society who will, and continue to, fight for these rights was uplifting and hopeful.
Finally, I see sport, I see romance - I am here for it! I found the romance element so pleasantly surprising and loved it. I was cheering on the sidelines - yes! I want a Spencer and Justice: The college years! sequel. The other cheering came from the football (soccer!?) and it was a very important part of Spencer's character and development and it was equally as exciting to read as the romance.

I hope Isaac Fitzsimons is proud of this book. It is a stunning YA debut, and really helped me to learn more about the world and about myself through reading it. I would thoroughly recommend this book to readers of YA novels and friends who enjoy LGBTQIA+ themes in their reading. Well done, Isaac Fitzsimons!

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This was such a cute YA LGBTQIA+ contemporary book, with exactly all the elements that I needed! This book details the story of Spencer as he moves schools following an incident at his previous high school. At Oakley, he joins the soccer team (against his parents wishes) and becomes one of the most valued players - the only problem? He's trans and no one knows. 

This book perfectly described the teenage ups and downs that we all go through, but more than that, it illustrated in a beautifully nuanced way the trials and tribulations of a trans teen. The discrimination and hurt they face, and the fear of coming out in fear of exacerbating these. While there were moments which I occassionally felt didn't quite fit with the mood (perhaps these were editing encouragements) which didn't add anything to the overall effect of the story, this book overall is heartwrenching and poignant. What I like most about this is that it deals with some pretty heavy and important topics - homophobia, religion, sports culture, trans rights, black trans rights to name but a few - and it opens the dialogue in a way that I can see a teenager/young adult engage with. 

Another aspect of the book I really enjoyed were the characters. I find typically with YA contemporary, the characters are underdeveloped and, sometimes, quite annoying. This was certainly not the case with The Passing Playbook. Were there moments in which Spencer made some questionable choices? Sure, but the overall effect of these allow our characters to learn and its done in a crafty way.

My only criticism is that I felt that the book was rushed at the end. The ending seemed a little lacklustre, and I feel that it would have been improved with being maybe 50-75 pages longer (or even just a 10 page epilogue) to allow the story to come to its natural close. The closing scene felt out of place, and while this may have been purposeful, it didn't work in my opinion. While this didn't affect my overall enjoyment of the novel, I think it would have added a little something extra to make it one of my favourites!

If you loved Felix Ever After, this is the perfect book for you! I would highly recommend it, and as a debut novel, it blew me away!
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I adore YA books with a sport theme or dynamic and this novel is a new favourite! The Passing Playbook is the story of Spencer, a trans boy who loves to play soccer. In this novel, Spencer has to decide whether he's willing to reveal his identity and fight for his right to play on the soccer team.
The Passing Playbook is an empowering story full of trans joy. There's an abundance of supportive relationships within this novel which were so beautiful to read. The author has also put an emphasis on Spencer's decision not to reveal himself as trans after moving schools and how this is a decision based on the importance of safety and emotional well-being and not a lack of courage or pride.
Every character is brilliantly written, with side characters facing their own struggles alongside Spencer. The Passing Playbook is an incredible debut that I highly recommend!
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A wonderfully sweet YA story about Spencer a trans teen trying to find his way in a new private school. He joins the football team, develops a crush on a teammate and joins the QSA but isn't out as transgender after a mysterious but definitely awful episode at his old school. Perhaps it's a teeny bit trite in places and the issues are resolved surprisingly easily but it was also a breath of fresh air to read read a trans story that wasn't absolutely full of trauma. A warm, big-hearted, story of trans masculine experience written with a deft touch that doesn't discount prejudice or discrimination but chooses not to centre it to the exclusion of all else.
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Such a cute and fun book fitting perfectly with the ongoing soccer championship going on in Europe right now. I understand nothing about soccer but reading about it is not as bad as having to watch in every single television around the country.

Spencer is a passing trans boy starting a new school who wants to join the boy's soccer team even if his parents don't think it's a good idea. Spencer wants to have little to no problems fitting at school, get new friends and play the game he loves. His plans, though, are not as easy as he thought they were and maybe coming out would help the already very accepting school, being even more supportive of their queer students.

Spencer also meets a super cute teammate and they bond kicking ball. Apparently kicking balls is a very bonding experience. Both of the boys are adorable and sweet. Yes, not everything is as easy as one expects young love to be, but it was cute and both of them got me smiling a lot.

I really loved this book and how little drama there truly was. Nothing unnecessary. It surprised me. I was always waiting for something bad to happen. And then it didn't and I loved it even more. Highly recommended.
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🚨 TW/CW: transphobia (mentions), homophobia, outing, bullying (mentions)
⭐️ Rep: mlm, trans and BIPOC MC

How would I describe this book? A tentative romance between a trans athlete and a conservative-Christian raised teammate which culminates in a celebration of queer joy ❤️ oh, and I read this in ONE DAY. I could not stop reading once I had started- the character development is well written, combined with a fast plot that never lingers or has unnecessary parts. As a soccer aficionado, I also loved the sports element tying the relationships between the MC and themselves, as well as their love interest, together. Guaranteed to leave you smiling wistfully after you’ve read the final page. 

Thank you @penguinteen and @pridebooktours for a #gifted ebook copy!
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Waaaaah. Yet another queer YA book that's left me all smitten. I want to see the Netflix film of so many of these stories lately, especially this one. Can we have more trans teens on our screens, please?

I really loved Spencer and his family. They're all captured in a genuine way - each operating with the best intentions even if they don't always get it right. There was so much relatable family stress and joy woven throughout this story.

I also really loved the soccer team too. How different personalities shone through and they were collectively essential to Spencer's story.

The reason this is only four stars is that I would have liked both the love interest, Justice, and the best friend, Aiden(?), to have had their characters definitely a tiny bit more. I finished the story feeling like I didn't really know or connect with these characters as well as I should have. They both still felt a little two dimensional to me, unlike the rest of the key characters.

Otherwise, such a lovely story that left me feeling all hopeful about the future.
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Fifteen-year-old Spencer Harris is a proud nerd, awesome big brother, and a Messi-in-training. He's also transgender.
At his fresh start at liberal private school, he seems to have it all: more accepting classmates, a decent shot at a starting position on the boy's soccer team, and maybe something more than friendship with one of his teammates.
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 on his team 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.

Oh this book was cute. Cuter than cute. Adorable. I love diving back into contemporary YA when I feel like I need a break from the real world and The Passing Playbook was everything I wanted and more. I was totally rooting for Spencer from the very first page and loved how determined and brave he was in every aspect of his life.
It's a quick read (maybe a tiny bit rushed at times), but what stood out for me were the amazing characters. It was so refreshing to see a sports coach who was kind and loving to all his players, as well as parents who were always trying their best to support and protect Spencer. I also absolutely loved all the other boys on Spencer’s soccer team, especially king-of-my-heart Macintosh. 

The plot moved along at a great pace, the characters were likeable and believable, and overall this was a super sweet book that left me with a smile on my face. This gave me similar vibes to Only Mostly Devastated and Check, Please so if you enjoyed them then you should definitely check this one out too.

I recieved an eARC of this book from NetGalley in return for my honest review.
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4.5 🌟

Okay, first of all this book is a blessing because it got me out of one of the baddest reading slumps of my life. Thank you, Isaac Fitzsimons, you are my saviour. 

Now, onto my actual review. I loved this book. I am a big fan of spokon animes and mangas and this is a spokon in book form, so of course I had to read it. The thing about spokon is that usually there is a queer subtext, but it is never explicitly stated that the characters are queer. The Passing Playbook, on the other hand, is unapologetically queer and I am totally here for it! I loved the rep, even if I can't speak for it, as I am not a trans guy. 
My favourite thing about this book has to be the characters. Even if it's a short and quick book (maybe a little rushed at times), I fell in love with its main characters, but also the side ones. My heart belongs to Riley and Macintosh, but I love them all. I loved the fact that the adults were not all negative figures, especially the soccer coach. I know sports are not always the most inclusive environment, but it was nice to see a caring and loving coach for once. And supportive parents, trying their best even if they sometimes mess up.
The only reason why I didn't give this book a full 5 stars is a pet peeve of mine, so it is not the book's fault. I cannot stand books where one of the main characters has uber religious parents and Justice's parents felt like they belonged in a cult. It really triggers me, even if I know it's the reality of a lot of queer youth. I mean, who the heck calls their children Justice, Steadfast, etc. It gave me the creeps.
Overall, it's a really well done contemporary, nicely mixing sports, friendships and romance. It is very quick to read (I read it in one sitting), the style is super engaging and the inclusivity is very nice. I love that even if it tackles some important issues, it has a positive undertone throughout. I would highly recommend this to fans of Fence, Check, Please, Haikyuu and any spokon manga really.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the e-ARC, I hope to read more by this author very soon and pick up a physical copy for my LGBT+ shelf!
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“Denying someone a basic human right is another way to dehumanize them.”
•
This is the perfect read for Pride month and for any other time of the year. If you liked All for the Game series you’ll probably love The Passing Playbook. Spencer is a boy, he has always known it, but his body doesn’t reflect it because when he was born, he was a girl. He has a very supportive family, who understands and tries to help him, but life can be though for him and not everyone is so open and supportive. Especially Justice’s family, which is very Christian and very conservative. But Justice is different, even if he has grown up with parents that don’t approve gay or transgender people, he cannot deny the fact that he likes boys and that Spencer is just the right person for him, despite all the difficulties. And their understanding reaches its top when they play soccer together. And for Spencer this is very hard, because he is not supposed to play in a boy’s team, how could he keep up?! But when you really want something and when you practice and believe in yourself you can do whatever you want, make your dreams come true, change the world. This is a book about acceptance and about knowing yourself. Spencer is not only trans but he is also black with an autistic brother. Nonetheless Spencer’s life is beautiful and full of love and nobody should judge his choices and the way he wants to live!
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The story and book has just been a total joy to read that also  touches on some very important topics! 
following our main character spencer Harris who has arrived at a fresh new school after a traumatic and horrible bullying experiences at his old school because Spencer is a Transgender Teenager, So for Spencer this is a Fresh clean slate to try and he has made a promise to himself that he’s gonna be try and get through as swiftly as he can the school year and to make sure that he keeps  that he is Trans a secret! 

But as the school year is moving along and Spencer has been making friends, and even scoring a spot on the Football team which is something that is so important to Spencer as it’s such a passion for him! A revelation gets dropped on Spencer By his coach who by law has to get Spencer’s Birth certificate (which is gendered as female) and for Spencer to play he has to make a difficult choice... to tell everyone and come out but Spencer doesn’t want past events to replay themselves over again..or to not be able to play for the school team and be benched ?? 

I will for sure be finishing this book tonight!and this is going to be a 4-4.5 stars!
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