The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons Book Review

Author Information

Isaac Fitzsimons is the author of The Passing Playbook (Dial BFYR/PRH, 2021). He
writes Young Adult fiction featuring intentionally marginalized characters so that every
reader can see themselves reflected in literature.

His background includes performing sketch comedy in college, learning how to play
three songs on the banjo, and, of course, writing.

His dream vacation would be traveling around Europe via sleeper train to see every top-
tier soccer team play a home game. He currently lives outside DC and works for an arts
advocacy nonprofit in the city.

Social Media Links:

Book Description

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.


Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is coming to shelves near you on June 1st.

Thoughts and Themes: I was a bit skeptical about starting this book because I don’t really like sports themed books but I’m glad that I kept reading on. There is so much more to this story than just the sports plot line.

I liked so much about this and my feelings were all over the place as I read this story. There are some heartwarming moments that I was just rooting for Spencer and Justice in, and then there were heart breaking moments too. There were moments in which I was angry along with Spencer but then sad for Justice. I just wanted to protect both of the main characters from enduring any harm, and give them the safe space that they longed for.

I liked how this book has being queer and belonging to a religious family. I thought it was good to see how Justice’s family being religious affected him being out and how that went into his relationship with Spencer. This was such a hard thing to read through and recall how my coming out experience was because of my religious upbringing.

I have so much to say about this book and all of the feelings that I had while reading it. This is definitely going to be added to my list of comfort reads as I loved it so much.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to several characters in their interactions with Spencer. You get to meet the love interest, Justice, the coach, another trans student, Riley, Spencer’s brother, Theo, Spencer’s best friend, Aiden, and several of the soccer team players.

I found each of the characters that you meet through this story to be lovable. I really loved the way the soccer team embraced Spencer when he comes out and how unexpected that is. I like how this shows a different side to sport team members, and how transphobia doesn’t have to exist in that space. I thought that was the most important thing that was shown, the book really shows that transphobia and homophobia have no place in sports, and that they don’t have to exist in sports.

I also really loved how supportive Spencer’s family is of him, I like how even if they struggle with the right thing to say or do they still support him. I liked getting pieces of Spencer’s brother in the story and seeing how Spencer tries to take up less space because of Theo being Autistic. I think seeing Spencer navigate being out and knowing how much attention that would bring to his family was good to see because we see him finally think about himself rather than everyone before him.

I really enjoyed Justice as our love interest and as a side character. I thought he was well developed and really liked the complexity he deals with being queer and having religion play a large role in his life. I thought this was really important to see especially as we see that both those identities can coexist, both peacefully but also negatively. I thought it was good to see the contrast between Justice’s families’ beliefs and what he believed. I also really liked how Justice just accepted that Spencer is trans and there was no dilemma with that.

Writing Style: This story is told in third person with a somewhat all knowing narrator. I tend to get frustrated with stories being told in third person but I actually liked this pov for this book. I liked that we got to read about so many different feelings and thoughts. I also liked that we got to follow different characters but I thought it was well done so that it didn’t feel like there was too many things going on.

Some Girls Do by Jennifer Dugan Book Review

Author Information

Jennifer Dugan is a writer, geek, and romantic who writes the kinds of stories she wishes she had growing up. In addition to being a young adult novelist, she is also the writer/creator of two indie comics. She lives in New York with her family, dogs, and an evil cat that is no doubt planning to take over the world.

Book Description

In this YA contemporary queer romance from the author of Hot Dog Girl , an openly gay track star falls for a closeted, bisexual teen beauty queen with a penchant for fixing up old cars.

Morgan, an elite track athlete, is forced to transfer high schools late in her senior year after it turns out being queer is against her private Catholic school’s code of conduct. There, she meets Ruby, who has two hobbies: tinkering with her baby blue 1970 Ford Torino and competing in local beauty pageants, the latter to live out the dreams of her overbearing mother. The two are drawn to each other and can’t deny their growing feelings. But while Morgan–out and proud, and determined to have a fresh start–doesn’t want to have to keep their budding relationship a secret, Ruby isn’t ready to come out yet. With each girl on a different path toward living her truth, can they go the distance together?


Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Teen for the advanced reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review.

Thoughts and Themes: It took me a bit to really get into this story as I wasn’t really a fan of either of the characters or the plot when I first started reading it. Once I got to about 50% in though I was hooked and needed to know what really would happen to our two main characters, and not just to their relationship.

Something that I really enjoyed in this book is how it explores discovering queerness and being visibly queer. I really enjoyed the nuanced discussions that this book brings up about being out and what that means for different people. I thought it was important that the discussion about what it means to be out, and how being out may do more harm than good happened. I really liked how this book points out that queer people don’t have to be out in order to be valid, and how coming out doesn’t have to be the goal if you are queer.

I really enjoyed reading these characters be teenagers and have some of the typical teenage problems. I liked that we got to see them both in their classroom setting and also in their respective activities. I liked the setting for the story as it made sense to me, but sometimes I did wonder why those around them didn’t get more involved. I did wonder how some of the characters kind of faded into the background as you read on when they were important at the start of the book.

Characters: In this book you are introduced to a bunch of characters, but our main characters are Morgan and Ruby. You also get to meet both of their friends, and get a glimpse into their home lives as well when we meet their family members.

I have mixed feelings about the relationship between Morgan and Ruby, and was not content with the way that the story ended. There were moments that I just kept getting angry with either character as they kept hurting each other, and this doesn’t really solve itself in the end.

On the other hand, I thought that the two characters had great chemistry with each other and really enjoyed reading as they figured out their feelings for each other. I think their relationship with each other is so nuanced because of outside things that impact how they interact with each other. Morgan is so stuck on not wanting to have to hide her queerness and her belief that no queer person should be in the closet, that she doesn’t really see beyond that. Ruby is scared of what others would think if she pursues a relationship with a girl, and also knows what her mother’s reaction would be so she holds herself back from pursuing what she wants.

When it comes to the family units in this book, I couldn’t stand Ruby’s mother. She just was looking out for herself and blamed Ruby for so many of her shortcomings. I thought it was so sad that Ruby felt that she was living for someone else rather than for herself. I really did enjoy the relationship that Ruby has with Billy though and how supportive he is of her through the whole book. I liked that his support was more silent than vocal but he made it known that he loved her.

I really liked reading about Morgan’s family and seeing the contrast of her family and Rubys. I think this also really added to the complexity of their relationship and it was something that Morgan never really acknowledges. Morgan has parents and a brother who support her being queer and also are able to financially provide for her. I think it was important to see the divide between Morgan and Ruby when it came to socioeconomic status and how this also plays into the dynamics of their relationship.

Writing Style: This book is told in first person through dual perspective which I love. I can never decide if I prefer one POV or multiple POV because I think both work. I think that each book really calls for different styles and dual POV works for this book. I liked getting to see both of their perspectives of different events.

If this book did not include dual perspectives it would be really easy for you to sympathize with only one character and really hate the other. The way it is written, you start to sympathize with one as you read their section but then you get the other’s POV and realize that they both have their flaws. I think this was one of my favorite things in this book, neither of our main characters is perfect.

Frankly in Love Book Review

Thank you Penguin Random House and Penguin Teen for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Summary from Goodreads: High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo–his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance–“Date Korean”–which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful–and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all. 

Thoughts: This is a book that you definitely don’t want to miss out on. Everyone will be talking about it and it’s worth the hype.

There are so many aspects that I like about this because it is so much more than a love story. I loved the way this talks about the complexity of family, dating, friendships, and racism.

I read mixed reviews about this book after I finished it because I didn’t want to let other people’s opinions influence my own. I really enjoyed the story minus the love part of it but I understand that it needed to be there to move things along. I think that this isn’t a love story but a coming of age of story for Frank, who is coming to terms with what it means to be Korean-American.

I enjoyed the way that Frank grapples with his identity and how he tries to mix both of his lives together. I also enjoy when Frank doesn’t understand why he does anything. I think it was very reflective of how a lot of teenagers feel at his age.

Something I didnt like at first but after thinking about it I love it is the way we don’t really know any of the characters. We know them on a surface level and that’s about it. Even Frank who is the main character in the story is a little bit of a mystery to us. I loved this because I felt like I was seeing people how Frank saw them. He didnt know the people in his life as well as he wanted to and that included himself.

I recommend this to those of you who enjoy YA and those of you who want a book that makes you think.

You can purchase this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library. Another great way to get this book is subscribe to YA BOTM this month by using code “grow” and get your first box for $9.99.