This is such an important, beautiful and inspiring ownvoices-story showing that there are many ways to be queer and trans, and how important it is to find your own voice and be your fullest self. Between Perfect and Real is honest and raw, but also so full of hope, and with amazing characters that have completely captured my heart! This heartfelt coming-of-age story about the struggles of a transgender teen boy deserves to be read by everyone!
The story follows high school senior Dean Foster, who knows he’s a trans guy, but to everyone else, including his girlfriend Zoe, is seen as a lesbian girl. But when he gets casted as Romeo in the school play, he realizes that he wants everyone to see him for who he really is. Not just on the stage, but everywhere in his life.
I completely rooted for Dean from the very first second and my heart ached for him through all his struggles and doubts. This story was so real and didn’t shy away from any of the difficulties Dean faced, such as body dysphoria, anxiety, self-doubt, transphobia, bullying and all other highs and lows of coming out as trans and the struggles when not everyone close to you can accept the change. The way Dean’s mother reacted and how she kept dead-naming him made me so angry I wanted to scream out loud at times… But it was nevertheless a hopeful and inspiring story about self-discovery and acceptance, about making it possible to live out your true self and to be loved for who you are.
One of things I loved most about this book was how it showed that there is not just one way to be trans, but that being queer and trans comes with infinite possibilities to find your own voice. I also really loved the beautiful friendships and support from Dean’s friends and his support group. There were so many wonderful characters that I rooted for almost as much as for Dean. Especially his best friend Ronnie completely stole my heart away in the way he unconditionally supported Dean and helped him find a way to express himself via his clothes.
All in all, Between Perfect and Real was an absolutely wonderful and heart-wrenching story with an important message and authentic and relatable characters to root for. I am so glad that Ray Stoeve wrote this book to give more nuances to the narrative about transness and to show that there are so many more ways of being trans and queer. I hope that many readers will feel empowered and seen by this book and the way it shows how no one should have to conform to anyone else’s standards of sexual identity or gender, but that we are all free to be who we are. I highly recommend it and know that Dean and his moving story will stay with me for a very long time!
Thank you NetGalley and ABRAMS Kids for the eARC and the possibility to read this wonderful book! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
This book will be released on April 27, 2021.
4.5 heartfelt stars rounding up to 5
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