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. 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.
I was ready for this book the second I found out that it featured a trans main character. And a trans character who is a soccer player no less! Spencer has to decide if he wants to stay stealth at his new school, or out himself so he can get off the bench and play for his new soccer team. Heck yeah, it sounded amazing and I was incredibly eager to read this book. Trigger warnings: transphobia
I love love love love loved this book. It’s sweet and adorable and serious and real. And just all around amazing.
I have a complicated relationship with sports, so I was not expecting to love the soccer aspect of this book as much as I did (I know, random place to start off haha). But honestly, I thought it was super cool to see Spencer’s love of soccer and I really enjoyed those scenes! I especially loved his team, because they were all such guys, but in the pure way. I definitely have a soft spot for Cory and Machintosh (two dorks, and I honestly think Machintosh is a himbo).
Now that I’m on to characters, let’s talk about Spencer, because wow, I loved him so much. He was such a 15 year old boy trying to figure life out, and I mean that as the biggest compliment. He felt and acted like a teen, and I absolutely loved it. I loved watching his journey with his identity, his place in his family and at school, and his determination to be on the soccer team.
I also really, really loved Justice. I think I loved him a whole lot more than I was expecting to. He is such a sweet, adorable guy. He has his own struggles, and I loved how they were explored and interwoven with Spencer’s.
Spencer’s family was also another highlight for me. They were just so, cheesy and adorable and downright dorks, and it was amazing.
There was also a messy aspect to this book, because the world is messy. Plus, teens are simply messy as well. Spencer struggles with his identity, being trans and queer, and other characters struggle with their identity as well. What I loved about this book is that it showcased the world being imperfect, but it showed the happiness, the fluffiness, and the good that it has as well.
Overall, I really, really loved this book. It was adorable and wonderful and overall fantastic. I am going to leave you with two fun facts: 1. I thought this was called Passing The Playbook for, a very long time. 2. For some reason, I pictured Coach as the coach for Teen Wolf.