July/August 2021 Kids Indie Next List
“This book is so delightful and had me smiling the whole time. THIS is the trans boy joy we all need to read and have in our lives.”
— Kelsy April, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT
Love, Simon meets Bend It Like Beckham in this feel-good contemporary romance about a trans athlete who must decide between fighting for his right to play and staying stealth.
“A sharply observant and vividly drawn debut. I loved every minute I spent in this story, and I’ve never rooted harder for a jock in my life.” – New York Times bestselling author Becky Albertalli
Fifteen-year-old Spencer Harris is a proud nerd, an awesome big brother, and a David Beckham in training. He's also transgender. After transitioning at his old school leads to a year of isolation and 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 boys' 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.
But when a discriminatory law forces Spencer's coach to bench him, Spencer has to make a choice: cheer his team on from the sidelines or publicly fight for his right to play, even though it would mean coming out to everyone—including the guy he's falling for.
About the Author
Isaac Fitzsimons is a lifetime dabbler in the arts. His background includes performing sketch comedy in college, learning how to play three songs on the banjo, and, of course, writing. He currently lives outside Washington, DC, and does research for an arts advocacy nonprofit in the city.
An Indie Next Pick
Kirkus Best Book of 2021
* “Balancing hope and honesty, this debut deftly handles multiple social themes, including racism, privilege, identity, and accessibility. A game-changing score to the back of the net.” – Kirkus, starred review
“Fitzsimons' debut novel treats gender, religion, sports, and family dynamics with a deft hand, using nuanced character building while setting up a high-stakes narrative that circumvents tropes of physical violence and trauma. This is a truly charming and heart-warming exploration of friendship, community, and acceptance.”
“An excellent addition to realistic fiction collections. Give to fans of Tobly McSmith’s Stay Gold and Bill Konigsberg’s Openly Straight.”
—School Library Journal
“Debut author Fitzsimons’s conversational writing style invites empathy for the cast of clearly drawn characters and their journeys of self-discovery…A heartwarming tale of determination and one teen’s path to authentic living.” —The Horn Book
“[A] heartfelt debut…Fitzsimons's protagonist is easy to love, and he writes with ease and finesse when navigating Spencer's connected identities.” –Shelf Awareness
“A gentle and wholesome depiction of the struggles of passing to fit in, Fitzsimons’ debut The Passing Playbook is a wonderful exploration of what it means to be true to yourself and step up for your right to play—and live —the way you want to.”
—The Nerd Daily
“Equal parts heartwarming and funny, this delightful debut romance is not to be missed.”
“The Passing Playbook feels like a simultaneous warm hug and a lightning strike of courage. Isaac writes from the heart, creating characters you will love and cheer on. This is a wonderful debut!” — Kacen Callender, National Book Award winner and author of Felix Ever After
“A big heart of a book about how acts of courage — both small and large — can be so empowering. It’ll leave readers feeling both loved and hopeful." —Aiden Thomas, the New York Times bestselling author of Cemetery Boys
“The Passing Playbook is a literary hat trick: a story of finding your voice, living your truth, and being yourself, all in one joyful package. This one's a keeper!” —Adib Khorram, award-winning author of Darius the Great Is Not Okay
"This book is a national treasure. I fell in love over and over again: with Spencer and Justice, with Fizsimons’ sharp and witty prose, and a romance that made my heart burst.” —Victoria Lee, author of The Fever King and A Lesson in Vengeance
“The Passing Playbook is a quietly powerful and earnestly hopeful debut. Fitzsimons explores privilege, identity, the complicated relationships we create through family and friends, and discovering the potential our voices have with charm and passion. Teens everywhere will love this one.”—Julian Winters, award-winning author of Running with Lions
"An absolutely perfect story about identity, first love, and finding a voice for yourself. I loved every single page.” —Mason Deaver, bestselling author of I Wish You All the Best and The Ghosts We Keep
“In this remarkable debut, Isaac Fitzsimons perfectly balances a hopeful, captivating story with a charming cast of characters. The Passing Playbook is the pitch-perfect YA romance of the summer.” —Phil Stamper, bestselling author of The Gravity of Us and As Far As You’ll Take Me