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A moving YA debut about a trans boy finding his voice—and himself Dean Foster knows he’s a trans guy. He’s watched enough YouTube videos and done enough questioning to be sure. But everyone at his high school thinks he’s a lesbian—including his girlfriend Zoe, and his theater director, who just cast him as a “nontraditional” Romeo. He wonders if maybe it would be easier to A moving YA debut about a trans boy finding his voice—and himself Dean Foster knows he’s a trans guy. He’s watched enough YouTube videos and done enough questioning to be sure. But everyone at his high school thinks he’s a lesbian—including his girlfriend Zoe, and his theater director, who just cast him as a “nontraditional” Romeo. He wonders if maybe it would be easier to wait until college to come out. But as he plays Romeo every day in rehearsals, Dean realizes he wants everyone to see him as he really is now––not just on the stage, but everywhere in his life. Dean knows what he needs to do. Can playing a role help Dean be his true self?


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A moving YA debut about a trans boy finding his voice—and himself Dean Foster knows he’s a trans guy. He’s watched enough YouTube videos and done enough questioning to be sure. But everyone at his high school thinks he’s a lesbian—including his girlfriend Zoe, and his theater director, who just cast him as a “nontraditional” Romeo. He wonders if maybe it would be easier to A moving YA debut about a trans boy finding his voice—and himself Dean Foster knows he’s a trans guy. He’s watched enough YouTube videos and done enough questioning to be sure. But everyone at his high school thinks he’s a lesbian—including his girlfriend Zoe, and his theater director, who just cast him as a “nontraditional” Romeo. He wonders if maybe it would be easier to wait until college to come out. But as he plays Romeo every day in rehearsals, Dean realizes he wants everyone to see him as he really is now––not just on the stage, but everywhere in his life. Dean knows what he needs to do. Can playing a role help Dean be his true self?

30 review for Between Perfect and Real

  1. 4 out of 5

    daph pink ♡

    Between perfect and real is a fabulous, powerful, heartfelt, emotional, heart wrenching story about finding your voice, your identity, exploring friendship and love. It's about that gap between perfect and real, about that bridge between perfect and real we all know exists but we are scared to cross. It's a story. about Dean, a trans MC who is cast as Romeo in “Romeo and Juliet”? I don't wanna spoil you with anything so I am not gonna go deep in plot section. Its full of fun moments like when De Between perfect and real is a fabulous, powerful, heartfelt, emotional, heart wrenching story about finding your voice, your identity, exploring friendship and love. It's about that gap between perfect and real, about that bridge between perfect and real we all know exists but we are scared to cross. It's a story. about Dean, a trans MC who is cast as Romeo in “Romeo and Juliet”? I don't wanna spoil you with anything so I am not gonna go deep in plot section. Its full of fun moments like when Dean spends time with his friends and explores about himself , when he joins trans support group and come to know about infinite possibilities the future hold for him. At the same time there were many sad moments like his constant battle with his mom , about coming out to his parents. It celebrates friendship and love that hurts and everything in between. A painful story about growth and future and what it truly means to close that gap between perfect and real. I loved the big queer and diverse cast . Zoe ( Dean's girlfriend) is a lesbian, Ronnie( dean's bestfriend) is black and gay, and Allison( Zoe's bestfriend and Dean's friend) is bisexual and Japanese-american. Then we have Nina and Jade, who are trans and nonbinary respectively who Dean become friends with through trans support group. I loved how supportive they were throughout the book and provided him with love and support he needed. The writing was poignant and moving , definitely looking forward to reading more from this author.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    Dean Foster begins senior year between a rock and a hard place.. Dean's used girl pronouns throughout childhood and up until now but something had always felt a little off. Just in the past few years, Dean came out as a lesbian, and while that felt slightly better...it still didn't feel fully accurate. Dean's increasingly feeling like something is wrong. And it's only through YouTube and lots of research does the lightbulb ding - he's trans. But knowing and making that transition are two entire Dean Foster begins senior year between a rock and a hard place.. Dean's used girl pronouns throughout childhood and up until now but something had always felt a little off. Just in the past few years, Dean came out as a lesbian, and while that felt slightly better...it still didn't feel fully accurate. Dean's increasingly feeling like something is wrong. And it's only through YouTube and lots of research does the lightbulb ding - he's trans. But knowing and making that transition are two entirely different things. Dean feels stuck in his life - can't continue living by she/her but also can't find it within himself to tell his friends and family. But then, Dean is given a part in the school play - a leading role actually. Romeo. And Dean takes a deep breath and decides to play Romeo as a guy. And another breath...and he comes out. There's just something about a good coming out story that gets me, ya know? Overall, I loved the concept of this book - Dean getting Romeo's part, balancing his high school life with coming out, and the way family adjusts and overcomes. However, I did have a difficult time getting into this one. I just felt like a lot of drama was...Dean-made. Some of the stuff I'm like - let me give him a hug. The poor fella has been through enough. But other bits had me going like...jeez... can I shake him? Just a little bit? It felt like he was looking for a fight in everyone and when they weren't going to step up for a fight, he'd storm out anyway then snip to all his friends about the terrible people out there. For example, one characters asks for time to read and learn about being trans so they know better how to respond and be there for Dean...And Dean rags about them to his friends about how unaccepting they are and how terrible his life has become. I just felt it wasn't fair of Dean to expect everyone to understand every single nuance of the LGBTQ+ community and transitioning within 48 hours...especially considering Dean spent literally years learning about the nuances before he made any steps. To be fair, not the whole book was like that. There were elements that worked well and I loved watching him become more comfortable in himself and watching him learn about himself. The support of the LGBTQ+ community really warmed my heart and elevated the book. I adored his girlfriend and I really wish the relationship was given more leeway in this book but ah well. Can't have it all.

  3. 4 out of 5

    theresa

    Between Perfect and Real is a moving story of gender euphoria, coming into yourself and finding your place in the world. Following a trans boy cast as a “non traditional” Romeo in his school’s theatre performance, Stoeve’s debut takes readers through the highs and lows of coming out as trans while exploring privilege, community and gender. I really enjoyed this book! Dean had such a strong voice and it was so easy to connect with him and empathise with what he was going through. I really loved hi Between Perfect and Real is a moving story of gender euphoria, coming into yourself and finding your place in the world. Following a trans boy cast as a “non traditional” Romeo in his school’s theatre performance, Stoeve’s debut takes readers through the highs and lows of coming out as trans while exploring privilege, community and gender. I really enjoyed this book! Dean had such a strong voice and it was so easy to connect with him and empathise with what he was going through. I really loved his development, as he went from being unsure and full of self doubt to really coming into himself and learning to trust himself. I also loved his relationship with his friends, especially Ronnie, who was just the sweetest! This book also explored some more difficult relationships and the struggles Dean went through as not everyone in his life was accepting which wasn’t always easy to read but read very authentically. Theatre has never been something I personally enjoy but Dean’s narration made his love of it so clear and I really enjoyed reading about why it meant so much to him and the role it played in his self discovery. Something I really appreciated in this book was the discussions surrounding privilege and, in particular, showing cis queer people as being just as capable of transphobia and getting things wrong as non-LGBTQ+ people. This is such an important narrative to explore and I felt that Stoeve handled it really well. Additionally, I loved the emphasis placed on online communities and resources for learning about the transgender experience as this is such a key part in people discovering their LGBTQ+ identities (it certainly was for me!) and felt very authentic to include. Another thing I loved was the acknowledgement of the need for trans spaces and community while coming into and accepting this identity, and the friends Dean found there. My only faults of the book were that there were a lot of characters and I found it quite difficult to keep track of them all in the beginning. I also thought that the ending was quite abrupt and quick and would have loved to spend a bit more time on it. I would also say that the characterisation of Zoe, Dean’s girlfriend, made me a bit uncomfortable. It felt like the narrative surrounding her fell a bit into the 'lesbians are TERFs' idea as she was the only transphobic queer person, and that she was demonised for breaking up with him because he's trans, rather than because she's a lesbian and not attracted to men. This is not to excuse the horrible transphobic things she says, rather that I wish the narrative did more to disentangle this from her identity as a lesbian. Between Perfect and Real is an incredible coming of age story that I’m sure is going to become an important book for so many trans readers. Dean’s journey of finding himself and coming into his identity is at once universally relatable and deeply personal and one that I highly recommend! I also talk about books here: youtube | instagram | twitter *eARC received in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley*

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anniek

    "The possibilities are endless." What a perfect way to end such a perfectly real book. One of the themes of this book is that there's no one way to be trans; being trans comes with infinite possibilites. Dean's story highlights one of those possibilities, but also makes room for all of the others, in the way Dean debates what his transition should look like and the way so many other trans people are featured in this book - I loved the support group Dean went to! I read this book in one sitting, I "The possibilities are endless." What a perfect way to end such a perfectly real book. One of the themes of this book is that there's no one way to be trans; being trans comes with infinite possibilites. Dean's story highlights one of those possibilities, but also makes room for all of the others, in the way Dean debates what his transition should look like and the way so many other trans people are featured in this book - I loved the support group Dean went to! I read this book in one sitting, I just could not put it down. Dean's story spoke to me so much and I loved reading a trans coming out story, we need them so badly! CWs: transphobia, misgendering, homophobia, bullying, gender dysphoria, mention of a trans person's suicide, deadnaming of said trans person (which I'll admit is the one thing in this book I did find unnecessary and I wish it wasn't included)

  5. 4 out of 5

    CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨

    Read my full review on my book blog, The Quiet Pond. Between Perfect and Real is the kind of book that will save lives. This is a stunning, powerful, and affirming story about questioning, transitioning, and becoming the person you were always meant to be. - Follows Dean, who realises on the first page that he's a trans boy, as he grows to understand his identity and what it means for his relationships - while also practicing for his lead role as Romeo for the school play. - This book strikes a gre Read my full review on my book blog, The Quiet Pond. Between Perfect and Real is the kind of book that will save lives. This is a stunning, powerful, and affirming story about questioning, transitioning, and becoming the person you were always meant to be. - Follows Dean, who realises on the first page that he's a trans boy, as he grows to understand his identity and what it means for his relationships - while also practicing for his lead role as Romeo for the school play. - This book strikes a great balance between soft and fluffy with serious and honest. The story does portray bullying - and the bullying is awful - but it also shows trans joy and self-love, which you can feel was written with so much love and vulnerability. - How the story explores relationships in this book was amazing. The story explores Dean's fraught relationship with his mother, his affirming relationship with his friends, and also what his trans identity means for his romantic relationship as well. - I feel that this story is honest yet safe in how it explores identity - that there's sometimes a lot of questioning and self-doubt involved, but understanding who you are comes with so much affirmation and joy. Ultimately, I loved that this story showed that there's no one way to be trans. Trigger/content warning: instances of anti-trans rhetoric (microaggressions, misgendering, deadnaming; all challenged in text), gender dysphoria, bullying, mention of trans suicide

  6. 5 out of 5

    Grayson

    I just finished this and I'm bawling my eyes out. I swear this book isn't fiction, it just my own senior year of highschool. Just replace Dean being an acting student struggling with playing a male role while closeted, with me being an art student struggling with self portraits. And I don't wanna get to deep into my family life, but its almost exactly lile Dean's. Dean's mom is literally my own, I actually had a really hard time reading scenes with her because it all just felt like my memories. I just finished this and I'm bawling my eyes out. I swear this book isn't fiction, it just my own senior year of highschool. Just replace Dean being an acting student struggling with playing a male role while closeted, with me being an art student struggling with self portraits. And I don't wanna get to deep into my family life, but its almost exactly lile Dean's. Dean's mom is literally my own, I actually had a really hard time reading scenes with her because it all just felt like my memories. And so many other things felt so familiar like the sneaking out to support group, sending binders to a friends house, not being able to go to my dream school. I swear I just read a book of my life. I'm just wrecked right now, I relate to alot of trans books but this one I relate to the point of it just being my biography. This book is definitely getting put on the list of books I recommend for trans teens to read. Its just so heartfelt and raw and real. Thank you @abramskids for sending me this ARC and to @jamesrowanray for writing it! Releases April 13, 2021 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Trans ftm representation, side lesbian, bisexual, gay ,nonbinary, mtf representation Own Voices CW: deadnaming, misgendering, transphobia, homophobia, bullying, coming out, unsafe binding, breakups, assault

  7. 4 out of 5

    leo | 飛べ

    This book made me feel seen in so many ways

  8. 4 out of 5

    readwithzoe

    i absolutely LOVE when books help me, as a cis person, understand the trans experience more fully while maintaining a plot that is more entertaining than educational for trans readers who already know the shtick. this book does that PERFECTLY. this book should be required reading for all cis people, and for all trans people who don’t mind reading about graphic transphobia and other potentially triggering topics relating to trans-ness. this book is written wonderfully; this is a rare YA contempor i absolutely LOVE when books help me, as a cis person, understand the trans experience more fully while maintaining a plot that is more entertaining than educational for trans readers who already know the shtick. this book does that PERFECTLY. this book should be required reading for all cis people, and for all trans people who don’t mind reading about graphic transphobia and other potentially triggering topics relating to trans-ness. this book is written wonderfully; this is a rare YA contemporary that doesn’t depict teenagers in a super cartoonish, out of touch way. i also love how the book doesn’t contain any pop culture references that are likely gonna be dated as soon as the book is in print, and completely ruin the vibe of the book. this book is very raw, very painful, and very “between perfect and real” (pun completely intended.) you will see the internal battle of our main character dealing with transphobia and transphobic microaggressions from people at his school, his girlfriend, and his parents; how long will it take his anger to burst? but this book isn’t ONLY a pain story; it’s also a story of the joy of finding yourself and people who accept you (queer found family trope eeee!!) (this paragraph is a minor spoiler) as a high school senior who’s college plans went very south, i REALLY needed to read this book right now. most YA books make college out to be super idealistic: if the main character is rejected from their dream school they try try again, or they’re accepted to another amazing school in their optimal area. it gets SO old when you’re situation, as dean’s is, is far from perfect. people don’t typically settle for less than the most college-wise in YA books, and the fact that dean did made me feel VERY seen. this is definitely a new favorite. TWs: transphobia, unaccepting parents, deadnaming, (name not mentioned) misgendering, mention of past trans person dying by suicide, bullying, transphobic micro aggressions

  9. 4 out of 5

    Adri

    4.5 Stars CWs: Bullying, transphobia and transphobic violence, harassment, minor outings of a trans person, deadnaming (dead name not mentioned on the page), homophobia and homophobic slurs, mention of suicide, and explorations of dysphoria Between Perfect and Real is a love letter to young trans readers. It's a story that shows a young character coming into his transness—fearing the unknown implications of what that can mean for him, how that might change his relationships, and how that might 4.5 Stars CWs: Bullying, transphobia and transphobic violence, harassment, minor outings of a trans person, deadnaming (dead name not mentioned on the page), homophobia and homophobic slurs, mention of suicide, and explorations of dysphoria Between Perfect and Real is a love letter to young trans readers. It's a story that shows a young character coming into his transness—fearing the unknown implications of what that can mean for him, how that might change his relationships, and how that might change how he sees and understands himself. It's a story that explores how we are often kept from our own transness because of fear, and because our minds reject that which they cannot imagine, and we are not taught to imagine ourselves as anything but static, straight, and cis. As the story progresses, we see Dean gradually discovering these moments of gender euphoria—both on-stage and off. I really enjoy the use of theater and art as a means for exploring gender and identity. It isn't until Dean removes himself and loses himself in the character of Romeo that he's able to see himself no only inhabiting the "role" of a man, but actually being one. Theater is a safe way to move between those roles and hear his fellow actors refer to him as a man, which helps him finally make sense of the puzzle pieces. It also operates as a safe place to explore gender presentation, especially with his costuming, and it allows him to buy his first binder and safely pass it off as a "production expense." I appreciate that the story understands and celebrates the necessity of safe spaces, and theater is just one of those spaces for Dean. There's also a really great emphasis on the importance of found family and community support. This is one of the first YA books I've read that shows a young, questioning trans boy going to support groups with other queer people, having their ideas and insecurities challenged and coming to a place of feeling more confident and safe in their own body and their own experience. Dean also has a really great group of friends (some who are better allies than others). He has people he can trust to go back and forth between pronouns to avoid outing him, people who let him send discrete packages to their house so that he won't get in trouble with his parents, and people who want him to be exactly the person he is. Connection and support is so vital for young trans folks, especially, and I really appreciate that being shown on the page. At the same time, the story doesn't shy away from hard conversations about how transness can challenge and change interpersonal relationships, and not always for the better. One of the more complex relationships at play here is the romantic relationship Dean has with his girlfriend, who got together with him when he identified as a lesbian. Throughout the story Dean decides he wants to come out to Zoe as a trans guy, and he battles with what that means for their relationship, how his transness might challenge Zoe's identity (if at all), and whether Zoe will be able to see him and love him as the boy he is, or whether she'll only ever see Dean "as a girl" because of his body and because of their shared history. There are times where Zoe makes Dean feel safe and times where she makes him feel unsafe, and that inconsistency is something a lot of trans folks experience. It's not always as simple as flipping a switch from "adjusting" to "acceptance." That's also reflected in the relationship Dean has with his parents, specifically his mom. She has a hard time accepting his transness and seeing it as "real." This leads to Dean hiding things from his parents and tip-toeing around them, because he can never gauge whether they're going to be receptive or not. To me, not only is that a realistic reflection of what many trans kids face, but it also acknowledges the essential piece that comes from actually being seen, recognized, and respected as the gender you are—not just as "someone masquerading in different clothes." Gradually, Dean is coming to the realization that he will not minimize or erase parts of himself to make other people comfortable, even people who are as important as his parents. He is learning that he doesn't have to be grateful for scraps of decency, and that he deserves so much more. Dean is a character who's in a really interesting place where he's questioning and exploring how he wants his own transness to look, which I think is important for young readers to see. Does he want to start wearing a binder? Does he want to go on hormones or not? Does he want to change his pronouns? Does he want to officially "come out" or does he just want to live his life for himself? There's no clear-cut right or wrong answer to any of these questions, and I think the story does a beautiful job of showing the validity of all the possibilities. Whatever Dean decides at the end isn't about what will make him "a more real trans person," but rather what is—or could be—best for him. In the end, I think this story does a great job of showing how transness is merely a world of possibilities, and we all have to learn how to navigate those possibilities in a way that's true for us. It feels scary not because transness itself is scary, but because we are taught to fear transness and because the world continues to reinforces itself as a frightening, unwelcome, and unsafe place for trans people in so many ways. It seems scary because it's a part of ourselves we are not taught to know or recognize, and because we often lack a clear path forward—not because that path doesn't exist, but because we can't see it. I think this story is invaluable in the way it shows Dean confronting those fears, defining what's true for himself, and learning how to navigate his own path on his own terms. To say that I recommend this book is an understatement, because it is certainly going to save and change lives.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marieke du Pré

    I want the world to see me as the boy I am inside. I want to grow up to be a man. I want to be good and kind and strong. I was looking forward to this book. I really liked the premise, a trans boy who’s not out to anyone yet. Seen as a tomboy girl, instead of the boy he feels inside. Ray Stoeve’s writing is engaging and so easy to read. I started reading this book on a sunny public holiday and finished it within that day. At first the story fell a little flat for me, but the story grew to me, and I want the world to see me as the boy I am inside. I want to grow up to be a man. I want to be good and kind and strong. I was looking forward to this book. I really liked the premise, a trans boy who’s not out to anyone yet. Seen as a tomboy girl, instead of the boy he feels inside. Ray Stoeve’s writing is engaging and so easy to read. I started reading this book on a sunny public holiday and finished it within that day. At first the story fell a little flat for me, but the story grew to me, and I started to like the story more and more until I fell in love with it. I felt the doubts Dean had and the way he struggled to come out to anyone. The worries he had. What would everyone think? And did he really want to change? Robot Dean looks good, like he has everything together, but inside is me, a mess of tangled wires and short circuits. Dean is a likable character but my most favorite person was Ronnie. I loved how supportive he was and loved Dean unconditionally. The best friend everyone can wish for! I had to grow to Zoë though, I liked Olivia way more. Between Perfect and Real is a heartwarming and moving story! It’s not only an important book for trans youth but also for cis people, to understand what trans people go through.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jane (whatjanereads)

    Actual rating: 4,5 This was a really, really amazing and realistic YA book with a trans MC. This book follows Dean, who is cast as Romeo in the school play. Dean has already been reading about transitioning and is following a lot of trans YouTubers. Due to being cast as a male role, he is realising that he ultimately wants to come out as trans and transition as well. This book follows a lot of Deans steps before and after coming out, things he and I’m sure a lot of trans people out there struggle w Actual rating: 4,5 This was a really, really amazing and realistic YA book with a trans MC. This book follows Dean, who is cast as Romeo in the school play. Dean has already been reading about transitioning and is following a lot of trans YouTubers. Due to being cast as a male role, he is realising that he ultimately wants to come out as trans and transition as well. This book follows a lot of Deans steps before and after coming out, things he and I’m sure a lot of trans people out there struggle with. Not only with transitions and being dependent on your parents when you are under 18, but also every day struggles, body dysphoria, transphobia and relationships. I think Deans development and thoughts in this book were super realistic and were presented in such a relatable way. I loved his queer group of friends with the “straight sidekick” (because it’s usually the other way around). And while this book has a lot of heartbreaking moments, there are just as many moments that made me so happy and were so beautiful. I especially loved the support group Dean went to, showing that there are so many different ways of being trans and transitioning. The only thing I minded, was that I’m not so sure that I liked how Dean and Zoe’s relationship was handled. In my opinion a few things felt kind of rushed and should have been discussed more elaborate. While I absolutely think she did some things that were super wrong and inexcusable, she was portrayed in a pretty onesides way that felt a little villainising to me. Nevertheless I think the way that things developed felt realistic, when also a bit rushed. All in all a very good YA contemporary with amazing trans rep, that focuses mainly on Deans development and I am sure a lot of people can relate to.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alex (Pucksandpaperbacks)

    CW: unsafe binding with duct tape, mention of death by suicide *not graphic*, transphobia, violence, fighting, deadnaming (name is not mentioned) and misgendering, outting, imposter syndrome, break-up, talk of hormones & testosterone, safe binding, unaccepting parent, feeling of body & social dysphoria on-page at 87%. Dean Foster must be protected at all costs. I saw myself in Dean a lot as we both have a similar coming out story and are both skater boi's. Coming out after you're already out a CW: unsafe binding with duct tape, mention of death by suicide *not graphic*, transphobia, violence, fighting, deadnaming (name is not mentioned) and misgendering, outting, imposter syndrome, break-up, talk of hormones & testosterone, safe binding, unaccepting parent, feeling of body & social dysphoria on-page at 87%. Dean Foster must be protected at all costs. I saw myself in Dean a lot as we both have a similar coming out story and are both skater boi's. Coming out after you're already out as a lesbian is an experience that I connect to and Dean's experience made me feel very comfortable and seen . He thought his coming out was over until he gets cast as Romeo in his high school's production of Romeo and Juliet and feelings of gender rise to the surface. The feelings of dysphoria after realizing you're probably trans are SO REAL. Dean's experience of body dysphoria and imposter syndrome resonated with me and made me think back to my memories from the beginning of my transition. Between Perfect and Real is a great depiction of the trans male experience & coming of age story through the themes of Romeo and Juliet. Watching hours of YouTube and scrolling through trans Reddit pages are very real times in a trans man's life. I loved Ronnie and Jared. Ronnie was a really great friend to Dean and he was someone I wished I had when I had first come out. I loved Ronnie, Jared, and Dean's dynamic toward the end of the novel and how they all hung out at a skatepark!! Dean is a SKATER BOI! I also liked how transphobia was handled and challenged. Dean did not take any fucks from anyone including those closest to him. I also loved the support group aspect of the novel and how Dean made trans and gender non-conforming friends. Another aspect I could really relate to, seriously Dean's story was so similar to my own. If I hadn't read an ARC copy, I would share some quotes that I loved because there were so many of them that I loved. There's a robot analogy that was SO GOOD and depicted the disassociation parts of dysphoria where you feel like a robot version of yourself. The only minor flaw I have is that I never read a scene where Dean takes off his binder (unless I missed it?). I'm just a little wary about whether he was sleeping in it or not - which is dangerous and forbidden. Overall, I really cherished Dean's story and it's definitely one of my favorites. As a theater fan, I really loved seeing a trans character be the star of the show and have an amazing teacher, Mr. Harrsion to come to when things hit the fan. Would recommend!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Vee

    literally can't wait for this literally can't wait for this

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jay Coles

    I love, love, love this book! I'm so lucky to have gotten the chance to read it early. Ray is brilliant with words, equally brilliant at packing an emotional punch on every page. I can't recommend Dean's story enough. Look out world, Between Perfect and Real is sure to capture your heart, too! I love, love, love this book! I'm so lucky to have gotten the chance to read it early. Ray is brilliant with words, equally brilliant at packing an emotional punch on every page. I can't recommend Dean's story enough. Look out world, Between Perfect and Real is sure to capture your heart, too!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Althea

    So, recently I’ve found that I really enjoy listening to audiobooks while crocheting! I’m not sure what it is about either of these things, but for me they go well together and, strangely, I make fewer mistakes in my crochet when I listen to a book at the same time! While crocheting my latest little animal friend (an octopus with bobbles for suckers!), I was really excited to see that Ray Stoeve’s debut novel was up on Scribd, so of course I had to give it a listen! Between Perfect and Real open So, recently I’ve found that I really enjoy listening to audiobooks while crocheting! I’m not sure what it is about either of these things, but for me they go well together and, strangely, I make fewer mistakes in my crochet when I listen to a book at the same time! While crocheting my latest little animal friend (an octopus with bobbles for suckers!), I was really excited to see that Ray Stoeve’s debut novel was up on Scribd, so of course I had to give it a listen! Between Perfect and Real opens with our main character, Dean, realising that he is trans. He also knows that he loves theatre and when he auditions for the role of Lady Capulet in his school’s production of Romeo and Juliet, he is surprised to learn that he’s been cast in the lead role of Romeo. Through support from a new group of trans and nonbinary friends, and expressing himself in his role as Romeo, Dean truly starts to grow into the person he was meant to be, but coming out as trans in high school isn’t always sunshine and roses. I really enjoy the plethora of queer books that are being released right now with school plays and theatre at the forefront, and this was no exception! It really gave me The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre vibes and really just gave me a great sense of nostalgia for when I was in a youth theatre group (though, admittedly, I didn’t last long!). Though I am twenty-three and have graduated from uni, I actually really enjoyed this school setting, too, although I’ve noticed recently that they can be rather hit or miss for me, but I think it was written really well and not ‘cliche’ here. Dean as a main character was so wonderful to follow along with. His self confidence and passion were so evident and he was so caring towards his friends! There were parts of his coming out journey that I really resonated with and I think that this is going to be such a wonderful book for trans and questioning teens nowadays! In fact, Dean attends a trans support group in the book, and seeing such a wide variety of trans and nonbinary people, and learning about their different experiences, is really going to make these teens feel so seen, and I’m so, so happy for them! There is some discussion in the book about allyship, too, not only from those outwith the queer community, but from those in the community, too – particularly surrounding outing people, pronouns, educating others and just simply standing up for trans people. Dean has a really wonderful, supportive queer friend group at his school and I really appreciated that they did make mistakes but they apologised and learnt from them. I would like to mention, though, while I’m on this point that this is definitely not the lightest of reads. Dean faces transphobic bullying and harassment, both overt and covert, by his peers, as well as his parents struggling to accept him – so please bear this, as well as the other trigger warnings, in mind before picking this book up! Although overall I really really enjoyed this book (and flew through it in a day!) I do have a couple of issues with it. The first is perhaps just because I listened to the book as an audiobook, but I found there to be far too many characters and I continually got all their names muddled up in my head. I think I may have had an easier time with this if I’d read a physical copy, so I’m almost sure that this is a me problem, rather than a problem with the book! The other issue I had is related to Dean’s girlfriend, Zoe. Dean has known Zoe for a long time before the book begins and they are in a committed and loving relationship. When Dean comes out to Zoe, I will admit, she does do some shitty things, such as telling a couple of their mutual friends that he’s trans, and she does say some mildly transphobic things, though she does apologise for them later. But the pair try their best to make the relationship work after Dean comes out, because they truly do love each other, however, Zoe is a lesbian. This fact is mentioned explicitly on page and, because Dean is a trans guy, Zoe isn’t sure that she can stay in a relationship with him after he fully transitions. This is understandable (though she doesn’t express it in the best way) as lesbians aren’t attracted to men. But she is made out to be the bad guy in the situation because of her lack of attraction to men. I really do get that it’s important to highlight that dating can be difficult as a trans person, particularly when you come out while in a committed relationship, but I just don’t think that this was the best way to deal with it and it came off as being kinda lesbophobic in the way that far too many people love to conflate lesbianism with being a TERF, which is both so untrue and also extremely harmful. I really wish this scene was handled better because otherwise this is a fantastic book, but I have seen this happening quite a few times in YA books recently and it really disappoints me. Despite those little issues I had, this is such an impactful and important read that is so necessary in YA today and I highly, highly recommend giving this one a go! Want more sapphic books? You can find me here: Book Blog | Twitter | Instagram

  16. 5 out of 5

    michelle (magical reads)

    4.25 stars read on my blog rep: trans boy protagonist, lesbian side character, gay Black side character, bisexual Japanese-American side character, trans girl side character, nonbinary side character cw: transphobia, homophobia, mentions of dead naming (name not on page) **I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.** I don’t want the audience to see a girl in boy’s clothes. I don’t want them to see a lesbi 4.25 stars read on my blog rep: trans boy protagonist, lesbian side character, gay Black side character, bisexual Japanese-American side character, trans girl side character, nonbinary side character cw: transphobia, homophobia, mentions of dead naming (name not on page) **I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.** I don’t want the audience to see a girl in boy’s clothes. I don’t want them to see a lesbian version of the play. I want them to see Romeo. This book’s premise sounded so good, so I was very happy when I was approved for an ARC! I really enjoyed it. Between Perfect and Real was a beautiful debut about coming out as your true self. For a while now, Dean has known he’s a trans guy but he hasn’t told anyone else. When he’s cast as a “nontraditional” Romeo in the school play, he’s excited to be playing a male character as a boy in front of people. As time goes on, he becomes more and more conflicted about sharing this part of himself, especially to his girlfriend Zoe, who’s a lesbian, and his mom, whom he knows won’t react well. However, with the help of his friend Ronnie, he begins attending a support group for trans youths and grows more comfortable with his identity. I do want to state that I am cisgender and thus I read this book from a cis perspective. I can’t speak for anything representation-wise about this, obviously, but I liked that Dean’s dead name is never stated on page. There are mentions of people intentionally deadnaming him (as well as misgendering him) but never on page. This book is an example of how you can have a trans character transitioning without deadnaming them! I also liked the big LGBTQ+ cast. Zoe is a lesbian, Ronnie is gay, and their other friend Allison is bisexual. Dean also befriends two trans people in his support group, Nina and Jade, and talks with other trans people in the group. I loved how supportive they were throughout the book; although this book had its downs, I’m glad that they were there to provide love and support. There’s a discussion in the book about how, while his friends are queer, they do not really understand what Dean is going through, which is a big sticking point at times. It was important to note that they are cis, and I liked that he could talk to other trans people for advice. I also really liked that this book acknowledges Dean’s white privilege! He has discussed with Ronnie, who is Black, about how people would still “overlook” him because he is white. Very few YA books, especially LGBTQ+ ones, acknowledge this so explicitly. The writing was very poignant. We easily slip into Dean’s POV and what he’s feeling at that time. I’m excited to see what this author writes in the future! I can’t talk that much about the plot without alluding to the ending. There’s a lot of turmoil throughout this book, of course; not everyone in Dean’s life is so supportive, namely his mom, and not everyone is as understanding as he first believes. There’s a lot of growth over the course of the book, and I’m happy with where it ended though! Between Perfect and Real is a moving debut about coming out as trans. I really liked the characters and the writing, as well as the acknowledgement of certain privileges. I definitely recommend Between Perfect and Real if you’re looking for a gorgeous LGBTQ+ story! original review: oh I really liked this!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of Between Perfect and Real in exchange for an honest review. THIS! This is how you write relatable teen characters. Dean and everyone in his life felt so much like actual people that it hurt my feelings. Dean is a trans, straight (I'm fairly sure), man and I'm a cis, queer, woman and yet I still found him to be one of the most relatable teens I've read in a long time despite us having pretty opposite identities because he's just so universally well w Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of Between Perfect and Real in exchange for an honest review. THIS! This is how you write relatable teen characters. Dean and everyone in his life felt so much like actual people that it hurt my feelings. Dean is a trans, straight (I'm fairly sure), man and I'm a cis, queer, woman and yet I still found him to be one of the most relatable teens I've read in a long time despite us having pretty opposite identities because he's just so universally well written, oh my god. So let's talk plot because that also was incredible. Dean has been going by Dean for years now, which occasionally turns heads because if you ask anyone else, Dean is a girl. While Dean grapples with starting to figure out that his typically male nickname was one of the most right parts of his identity, he also gets cast as the male lead in the school musical and starts to explore why he feels so much better playing men then women. I'm not trans so I can't speak to how well the rep was handled and I do know Dean binds unhealthily once in this (although he very quickly points out how unhealthy that was) but as a queer person, I found his experience coming out to be really well handled. I loved the emphasis on the different ways he came out and the realistic ways people accidentally blundered it and really enjoyed the emphasis Stoeve puts on how the internet & support groups helped Dean come into his identity. There are a few standout lines near the end of this that made me start to cry but I can't really discuss them without spoilers so hurry up and read it already so I have someone to gush over this with.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lu

    A huge thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for the chance to read and review this book! TW: deadnaming, misgendering, bullism, mention of a trans' person's suicide and deadnaming, forced coming out, gender dysphoria "The possibilities are endless" Dean Foster knows he's a trans guy, but everyone thinks he's a lesbian, including his friends, parents and girlfriend, Zoe. It was already hard enough coming out as lesbian to his parents, most of all to his mother, who wants him to be the perfect daugh A huge thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for the chance to read and review this book! TW: deadnaming, misgendering, bullism, mention of a trans' person's suicide and deadnaming, forced coming out, gender dysphoria "The possibilities are endless" Dean Foster knows he's a trans guy, but everyone thinks he's a lesbian, including his friends, parents and girlfriend, Zoe. It was already hard enough coming out as lesbian to his parents, most of all to his mother, who wants him to be the perfect daughter and Dean can't be who and what his mother wants. He's not a girl. He's not a lesbian. He's a guy. When his theather director cast him as a "nontraditional" Romeo, Dean realizes he can't wait until college to be who he is and he wants everyone to see him as he really is: a boy. I absolutely loved Between perfect and real and Dean's voice is powerful and compelling. The reader follows him struggling with his fears and doubts, fighting with his parents (mum, mostly), while trying to finding his voice and what he wants to do. Between friends and girlfriend, college's applications and interviews, theather's rehearseals. The author dealt with so many difficult themes with care and sensitivity and the writing style is brilliant, it's impossible not to get involved in the story and to love and support Dean, while dealing with school, Romeo's role, clothes, pronous, parents, girlfriend and his future. I loved Dean's friends and their support and the way the author dealt with their reactions to his coming out as trans. some supportive, some less, but totally believable in their authenticity. I loved the group, Dean's new friends and how he found support and help in them. This book is amazing, I love it so much and I can't wait to have a physical copy.

  19. 4 out of 5

    BookHugger

    *I think it's important to preface this by saying that I am not trans, so I cannot speak on whether this book has good rep - so definitely read reviews from #ownvoices readers who can better address the representation* With that said, I do think this book could and will be really important to trans readers. It definitely felt personal to the author and I really liked how honest and raw the book was. I will say that I had a few issues with it that I'm not really sure how to articulate. I think the *I think it's important to preface this by saying that I am not trans, so I cannot speak on whether this book has good rep - so definitely read reviews from #ownvoices readers who can better address the representation* With that said, I do think this book could and will be really important to trans readers. It definitely felt personal to the author and I really liked how honest and raw the book was. I will say that I had a few issues with it that I'm not really sure how to articulate. I think the ending felt rushed. I was flipping my e-arc looking for more pages. I also felt like the (view spoiler)[breakup between Zoe and Dean wasn't addressed fully. I liked that they came to an understanding later, but I wish Zoe's perspective had been respected a little more in the text. While Zoe had no right to be transphobic or expect Dean to not transition for her (like wtf), I think it should also be said that if Zoe is a lesbian than it shouldn't be expected that Zoe would still date Dean since Dean isn't a girl. I wish that had been discussed more in the text aside from the minimal conclusion made at the end (hide spoiler)] . I also felt that there were too many characters and in the beginning, I had a really hard time keeping track of them and each of their side stories. I love the found family trope and that this book used it, but I wish the family had been just a bit smaller so I could have felt more connected to each of the characters. (With that said, Ronnie is my absolute favorite and I would love to see an entire novel dedicated to him.) Anyway, I did really like this! I appreciated that the issues within Dean's family weren't black and white and that his mom was changing toward the end. That stuff hit a little harder for me. I definitely recommend this! I think some of my issues with it honestly are now coming down to my pickiness with YA. A book really has to have me connected to the characters more emotionally and has to *do more* for me to give it four or five stars and this just didn't have it for me. I think it'll be a really important book in 2021 and I hope it gets the hype it deserves! -Book Hugger

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ryan // Vale

    I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. There’s no such thing a perfect – but this book comes pretty darn close. This novel follows 17 year old trans boy, Dean. When he is cast as the male lead in the school play he begins exploring his gender further and realises he needs to come out and transition. It explores how his relationships with friends, family, his girlfriend and himself change and stay the same as he comes out and begins to socially transition. This book was bea I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. There’s no such thing a perfect – but this book comes pretty darn close. This novel follows 17 year old trans boy, Dean. When he is cast as the male lead in the school play he begins exploring his gender further and realises he needs to come out and transition. It explores how his relationships with friends, family, his girlfriend and himself change and stay the same as he comes out and begins to socially transition. This book was beautifully written. At times it felt more like poetry than a prose novel but it was still written in an accessible way. I really enjoyed the experience of reading it. As a genderqueer trans man myself, I found the descriptions of dysphoria and the experience of being trans really spoke to me. Stoeve managed to capture these feelings in prose in a way that felt genuine and was beautifully written. If I had any criticisms it’s that some parts were predictable but then again I am a 23 year old man and this is a YA novel so it’s not something that should bother most people. There was also a minor plot point which I thought would come back up but didn’t go anywhere – perhaps I read too much into it. Overall I absolutely adore this book. A beautifully written novel of a trans guy figuring out who he is and what he needs set to the backdrop of my favourite play, Romeo and Juliet – it’s like it was written for me! I definitely recommend this book to anyone with even the slightest interest, trans or cis, it will not disappoint. Content warnings: bullying, homophobia, transphobia, misgendering, outing, dysphoria, references to suicide

  21. 5 out of 5

    R

    I had to take a few days to piece together my thoughts or this review would've been something like "THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD" and, well, it is really good but I want to express how seen I felt by this book. Whether it was from the main character or side characters I just really felt represented by this book. For context, I'm a transmasculine enby who was a "tomboy" most of their life and had a mother who wasn't the fondest of that. Definitely not to the extreme that the mother in this book was, but I had to take a few days to piece together my thoughts or this review would've been something like "THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD" and, well, it is really good but I want to express how seen I felt by this book. Whether it was from the main character or side characters I just really felt represented by this book. For context, I'm a transmasculine enby who was a "tomboy" most of their life and had a mother who wasn't the fondest of that. Definitely not to the extreme that the mother in this book was, but I kinda always felt like I was disappointing her. Then I realized I was nonbinary and everything made more sense, but it was also harder because I felt more and more alienated to my body. No one really talks about how dysphoria usually gets WORSE after you figure out that you're trans and I appreciated that this book sort of touched on that. I also loved the euphoric moments, though. The feeling of seeing my chest flat for the first time was very similar to Dean's along with some other details. In other words, this book really spoke to me and the casual inclusion of a nonbinary character who didn't feel ready for testosterone gave me life. I really hope this book helps the trans kids who deserve it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jarka Alam

    I want to start by saying that one day this book will be very important to someone. The struggles faced by Dean throughout the story are sure to hit a cord with not just teens (or adults for that matter) struggling with their gender identity, but also with anyone who is struggling with their identity period. The story feels very real and honest and raw while still managing to remain accessible. There are clear struggles (romantic ones, friendship ones, family ones) but ultimately it is still a s I want to start by saying that one day this book will be very important to someone. The struggles faced by Dean throughout the story are sure to hit a cord with not just teens (or adults for that matter) struggling with their gender identity, but also with anyone who is struggling with their identity period. The story feels very real and honest and raw while still managing to remain accessible. There are clear struggles (romantic ones, friendship ones, family ones) but ultimately it is still a story about the importance of found family and finding friends who will do whatever they can to love and support you. This is one of my favorite things I've read this year, and I can't wait for it to hit shelves next year so everyone else can experience it also.

  23. 4 out of 5

    emmm_reads

    I really enjoyed reading this book, and I am confident that it will mean a whole lot to many young trans readers. Dean definitely experiences transphobia at many points in the story, but the message of the book itself is full of trans positivity. One of Dean’s closest friends, Ronnie, is a really great ally and a few of his scenes with Dean were super heartwarming and made me smile so much. The trans support group Dean goes to was also one of my favourite aspects of the book - it was really nice I really enjoyed reading this book, and I am confident that it will mean a whole lot to many young trans readers. Dean definitely experiences transphobia at many points in the story, but the message of the book itself is full of trans positivity. One of Dean’s closest friends, Ronnie, is a really great ally and a few of his scenes with Dean were super heartwarming and made me smile so much. The trans support group Dean goes to was also one of my favourite aspects of the book - it was really nice to see the author include a variety of other trans characters in addition to the MC, and I loved the sort of found family dynamic that ends up forming between Dean and some of the people he meets there. The use of Dean’s school play as a way for him to explore gender was also really cool to read about, and probably an experience that some readers might resonate with. I think I would’ve preferred the book to end a bit less abruptly, but that really is more of a personal preference than anything. Apart from that though, the writing was pretty good and I became invested in the story super quickly. Overall I would definitely recommend this book & I’m really hyped for it to come out in April! content warnings: transphobia, bullying, mention of suicide (not graphic), homophobia, character being outed

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chloe

    *Spoiler free* A book with a trans main character was all I needed to know to want to read this book. A book with a trans main character figuring out his identity while play Romeo in his school's production of Romeo & Juliet was just more incentive for me to be absolutely to ready to read this book as soon as I can. Trigger warnings: discussion of suicide, transphobia, homophobia In fact, I actually wanted to read this book so bad that I stooped to incredibly annoying levels to get it. (I am start *Spoiler free* A book with a trans main character was all I needed to know to want to read this book. A book with a trans main character figuring out his identity while play Romeo in his school's production of Romeo & Juliet was just more incentive for me to be absolutely to ready to read this book as soon as I can. Trigger warnings: discussion of suicide, transphobia, homophobia In fact, I actually wanted to read this book so bad that I stooped to incredibly annoying levels to get it. (I am starting off with a funny story because I'm gonna get SUPER mushy right after haha.) I was denied on NetGalley, and then I was denied on Edelweiss. But, there is the ability to rerequest on Edelweiss. And I certainly took it. More than once. I am so sorry to the publisher, but I actually got approved! I haven't had luck with rerequesting before, so I was shocked when I got the email. Alright, now to the mushy stuff, because this book made me feel a lot of feelings. For what I think was the first time, it felt like I wasn't faking my feelings about gender. This book gave me a sense of calm I didn't even know I was looking for. Reading about how Dead wears hoodies, even when its hot, because he feels more comfortable with a layer between him and world, while sitting in my flannel, with my pillows I use for the same reason on my lap was an experience I was not expecting, but welcomed with open arms. There were so many moments like this too, moments where an eff bomb dropped in my head, or my jaw couldn't help but drop. Because I was reading thoughts and experiences that so mirrored my own. So yeah, there were whole chunks of this book that I just wanted to sob through. Really, the above paragraph is basically my entire feelings. Yes, there was a plot. Yes, there was writing. But what made this book so special for me was Dean's journey to discovering who he was and his journey to becoming comfortable with that. I guess I should talk about other aspects, instead of being super mushy the entire time. The entire theatre aspect was fantastic. I'm a sucker for anything to do with theatre, so a production of Romeo & Juliet was right up my alley! Also, the writing was spectacular too. It made it easy to fly through the book and felt like crystal clear water. Dean also has some amazing friends. I loved all the side characters, even if all their relationships are smooth sailing. Speaking of not smooth sailing, another piece this book knocked out of the park was the portrayal of teen pain. The feeling of the world falling apart, the unsureness of the future, the unfairness of the world, the pain of lost relationships, it all felt so real. And it felt so incredibly teen. I know that's a weird thing to say, but Dean's angst, for lack of a better word, felt exactly like what I was feeling the midst of my teenage misery. It felt very, very authentically teen, and it was just really cool to read. It's so weird to try and review this book because everything I loved about it was so personal. It was a book I personally needed. It's hard to talk about the book in any kind of objective way, because my love for isn't objective. I loved it because of my personal experiences and feelings, which won't be the same for other people. All my reviews are my own personal thoughts and opinions, but I dunno, this feels deeper. It is a good book! I do think people should read it! It's just that my love for it is all tied into such deep, raw, and personal feelings. Though, it is a very. very good book!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dom

    When I heard that Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve was a YA contemporary novel revolving around a trans guy coming out with the help of Romeo and Juliet, I was immediately sold. Overall, I think the novel delivers on its premise and will be so, so important for younger trans guys who are grappling with their identity. Dean’s journey of grappling with his identity, his process of coming out, the struggles he faces in his relationships as he comes out, and the bullying he experiences are (in When I heard that Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve was a YA contemporary novel revolving around a trans guy coming out with the help of Romeo and Juliet, I was immediately sold. Overall, I think the novel delivers on its premise and will be so, so important for younger trans guys who are grappling with their identity. Dean’s journey of grappling with his identity, his process of coming out, the struggles he faces in his relationships as he comes out, and the bullying he experiences are (in some cases unfortunately) real in a way that resonates with me as a trans reader. There is a lot of homophobia, transphobia, and bullying in this story that can be difficult to read at times, particularly as a queer trans person, but it’s an illuminating light on the types of challenges young trans kids can face. As a side note, while there is a focus on medical/physical transition in this novel and I’m a firm believer that medical transition isn’t necessary to define or validate your transness if you don’t want it for yourself, I think it’s incredibly important for those discussions to be had openly and frankly as they are in this novel. The more that gender affirming medical care is normalized, the more I hope that trans youth will be able to access it without the prejudice and obstacles they currently face. One of my other favourite parts of this novel was the use of fiction (in this case, theater) as a vehicle for identity and gender exploration. Dean’s journey of claiming Romeo as his own with the support of some of his close friend was really heartwarming to read. Predictably, I loved the found family Dean ends up making for himself in the course of the novel, as it serves as a reminder that no matter who you are, you are valid and worthy of love and support. Characters are also allowed to make mistakes as they learn how to navigate coming out, both their own and that of someone they know, and I really appreciate that space being given. I did have a few critiques. The ending of the novel felt incredibly rushed and unresolved, though I do tend to feel that way about a lot of YA endings so take it with a grain of salt. The romantic subplot felt underdeveloped to me, especially since I got the impression it was supposed to be a bigger source of conflict. I also wish the play itself had been more of a focus given the pitch. And, outside of Dean, many of the side characters felt a bit underdeveloped as well and I would have liked to see more of them. In the end, Between Perfect and Real centered a believable and necessary journey of coming out as trans that reinforces the idea your personal identity can change and it’s no less valid if and when it does. Despite a few stumbling blocks in this debut, this will be such an important novel for many and I’m so glad it exists in the world. Thank you to Amulet Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

  26. 5 out of 5

    DK

    *I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review* I loved this book so much! It instantly went on my list of favorites and is one of the best books I've read featuring a trans main character. As a nonbinary person, there were many things that I could relate to in this story, and I loved that the reader is introduced to various characters within the trans community - men, women, and nonbinary people - and given insight into their experiences. The main character, Dean, is white, b *I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review* I loved this book so much! It instantly went on my list of favorites and is one of the best books I've read featuring a trans main character. As a nonbinary person, there were many things that I could relate to in this story, and I loved that the reader is introduced to various characters within the trans community - men, women, and nonbinary people - and given insight into their experiences. The main character, Dean, is white, but through his support group he meets trans people of color and learns how his experiences and their experiences are different. There are also an abundance of queer identities represented in the story. Between Perfect and Real is the story of Dean coming to terms with his identity and coming out to his friends, family, and school. At times it's hard to read as Dean does face transphobia and bullying, and doesn't receive the support he deserves. But throughout everything he has a solid friend group that rallies around him, as well as other allies and his trans youth support group. I love that Dean's growth as a character matches his growth and confidence as an actor, as he's not only transitioning socially but also transitioning professionally, going from playing traditionally female roles to playing Romeo. In addition to the coming out narrative, this is a really great contemporary high school story featuring many milestones including senior year, applying to colleges, first loves, breakups, and more. I enjoyed all of the characters and felt that they were well rounded and relatable. All in all, a truly amazing book!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nadia

    Before I begin my review I would like to say I cannot speak on the accuracy of the representation and am basing my review on the writing. Although I only rated this book 3 stars, I believe that it could mean a lot to a lot of people. This book follows Dean, a trans boy, who is not yet out and instead is allowing everyone to think he's a lesbian, including his best friend, his girlfriend, and his parents. When his theater teacher casts him in their school play as a "nontraditional" Romeo, he begi Before I begin my review I would like to say I cannot speak on the accuracy of the representation and am basing my review on the writing. Although I only rated this book 3 stars, I believe that it could mean a lot to a lot of people. This book follows Dean, a trans boy, who is not yet out and instead is allowing everyone to think he's a lesbian, including his best friend, his girlfriend, and his parents. When his theater teacher casts him in their school play as a "nontraditional" Romeo, he begins to think more about coming out and what that would mean for him. There were a few things that I didn't like about this book, which is why I rated it 3 stars. The first is that at the beginning, multiple side characters were introduced that were all given backstories at once, so it was hard to keep track of what happened to who and who was important. Another thing is that it seemed to jump around from scene to scene randomly, and it almost didn't feel like the order of the scenes had been planned out that carefully. And lastly, it seemed like (view spoiler)[ Zoe and Dean randomly began to have troubles in their relationship without any buildup. (hide spoiler)] And although my amount of enjoyment throughout the book mostly remained the same, there were a few things that stuck out. First, I love Shakespeare's plays, and I was introduced to them through a book called "Star Crossed" by Barbara Dee, which was about a school production of Romeo and Juliet. So I appreciated the elements of Romeo and Juliet throughout this book, and I almost wish there had been a bigger focus on the play and on modernizing Shakespeare. Another thing that I liked was that once the side characters were fully established, they and Dean were all very relatable. And lastly, I liked how this book dealt with heavier topics but still managed to be fun. Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable read that I feel like will mean a lot to many people.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sharelle Don Larsen

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 4.5 star read Ok, "Between Perfect and Real" brought out so many feelings for me!!!! Dean!!! My boy! Ok so this book is devastatingly beautiful. The representation in this book is what I've longed for! The only reason this isn't a 5 star for me, is because I had some issues with the break up. I really felt like some elements should have been elaborated on more (like that because Dean is trans F->M, and Zoe is a lesbian, they wanted to end it). I know it was a little more complicated, but I wish m 4.5 star read Ok, "Between Perfect and Real" brought out so many feelings for me!!!! Dean!!! My boy! Ok so this book is devastatingly beautiful. The representation in this book is what I've longed for! The only reason this isn't a 5 star for me, is because I had some issues with the break up. I really felt like some elements should have been elaborated on more (like that because Dean is trans F->M, and Zoe is a lesbian, they wanted to end it). I know it was a little more complicated, but I wish more of a distinction had been there. This is an honest portrayal and doesn't hide the bad stuff with the good. I laughed and cried and felt for these characters. Thank you Netgalley for approving an ARC of this for me!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Danielle H

    I received this ARC as a winner of a Giveaway in partnership between Pique Beyond and YALLWrite! All I could think while reading this book was the advice I've heard about writing the stories that you want to see in the world. I felt Ray's commitment to Dean and his story and they created not only a fully formed character, but the world he was navigating. However, I felt myself longing at the end of the book for more clarity for myself as a reader, but also for Dean, about what the next thing was I received this ARC as a winner of a Giveaway in partnership between Pique Beyond and YALLWrite! All I could think while reading this book was the advice I've heard about writing the stories that you want to see in the world. I felt Ray's commitment to Dean and his story and they created not only a fully formed character, but the world he was navigating. However, I felt myself longing at the end of the book for more clarity for myself as a reader, but also for Dean, about what the next thing was (while understanding that yes, we don't always get that clarity we want).

  30. 4 out of 5

    A.J.

    I received a physical ARC from the publisher, which has not impacted the honesty of my review. I couldn‘t put this book down. I didn‘t come out until well after high school, but so much of what main character Dean went through during his self-discovery process resonated with me in this story. I saw myself in Dean‘s journey, cringed at the realistic instances of transphobia and misgendering, and cheered at every affirmation of his authentic self. Stories like this are so needed in kidlit, and I'm h I received a physical ARC from the publisher, which has not impacted the honesty of my review. I couldn‘t put this book down. I didn‘t come out until well after high school, but so much of what main character Dean went through during his self-discovery process resonated with me in this story. I saw myself in Dean‘s journey, cringed at the realistic instances of transphobia and misgendering, and cheered at every affirmation of his authentic self. Stories like this are so needed in kidlit, and I'm hoping they continue getting acquired and published well beyond the next crop, until there are as many trans + nonbinary stories out there as there are kids who need to feel seen. This one releases in April 2021 and is well worth a preorder.

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