Review of The Passing Playbook

The Passing Playbook
by Isaac Fitzsimons
High School    Dial    304 pp.    g
6/21    978-1-9848-1540-8    $17.99

Spencer Harris begins sophomore year at a new school in Ohio, hoping for a fresh start after having had to transfer because of “the Incident” at his previous school: Spencer is trans, and he was outed and threatened during his freshman year. He succeeds at finding his circle on the soccer team and in the Queer Straight Alliance, but even there he’s tentative about revealing his queer and, especially, his transgender identity. To Spencer, fitting in seems dependent on remaining in the closet, but a love interest and other circumstances force him to consider whether he wants to live with a secret. The story briefly touches on secondary topics such as racial identity (Spencer is described as Black, his family as interracial) and disabilities (Spencer’s brother is autistic) but keeps the focus on the trans experience. Debut author Fitzsimons’s conversational writing style invites empathy for the cast of clearly drawn characters and their journeys of self-discovery. In addition to providing a basic understanding of some of the daily challenges faced by trans youth and their families, the story models how a community can come together to take care of one of its own. A heartwarming tale of determination and one teen’s path to authentic living.

From the September/October 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Nicholas A. Brown

Honduran-American librarian and arts producer Nicholas A. Brown is the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System’s chief operating officer for communication and outreach, an adjunct faculty in library and information science at The Catholic University of America, a District of Columbia Library Association past president, an ALA Rainbow Round table member, and a former Library of Congress music specialist.

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