Review: The Passing Playbook

Title: The Passing Playbook
Author: Isaac Fitzsimons
Genre: Young Adult, LGBTQ, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 1, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

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.


Spencer Harris starts at a new private high school in his sophomore year after being bullied and receiving death threats at his old school for being transgender. Spencer is starting this school with a fresh start as a boy, without coming out. He had played soccer in middle school, and was excited to play on the high school team. It gets more complicated when he starts to like one of his teammates, Justice. Spencer is one of the best players on the team, until the coach learns that Spencer’s birth certificate lists him as a female, which would disqualify the team from playing in the final tournament. Spencer has to figure out how to continue being himself while also fighting for queer and transgender rights.

This story had such a cute romance. Spencer and Justice were perfect together. There was a lot of tension in their relationship because Spencer wasn’t out as transgender and Justice wasn’t out as gay. They had to hide their relationship from a lot of people but I was rooting for them the entire time.

There were some devastating scenes in this story. Spencer was lucky to have such a supportive family. They were learning along the way with Spencer, but they made an effort to figure everything out to make his life the best it could be. Even though he had his family’s support, Spencer still had to change schools because he was in danger. Justice was from an extremely religious family who didn’t hide their homophobia. Their school also wasn’t that open to making the school as accessible to queer students, even though they were considered progressive. Spencer’s story was uplifting, but there was a lot of homophobia and transphobia around him.

The Passing Playbook is a heartwarming transgender love story.

Thank you Penguin Young Readers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

May the Best Man Win by Z.R. Ellor

Stay Gold by Tobly McSmith

Have you read The Passing Playbook? What did you think of it?


Author: jilljemmett

Jill lives in Toronto, Canada. She has studied English, Creative Writing, and Publishing. Jill is the creator and content producer of Jill’s Book Blog, where she has published a blog post every day for the last four years, including 5-7 book reviews a week. She can usually be found with her nose in a book.

One thought on “Review: The Passing Playbook”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: