Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve
Release Date: June 10, 2021
Between Perfect and Real is a poignant story following a young trans boy as he navigates his identity, friendships, family, and future.
The book has great representation in terms of BIPOC characters and explores the theme of "chosen families" through the trans support group in which Dean attends. I loved that this gave Dean an outlet where he could truly let go and be himself. The contrast in Dean's character between when he is in this environment compared to when he is at his rehearsals is clear. This highlighted the importance of having people around you and a support system that allows you to be the truest version of yourself. Dean's emotional state completely changes when he's around people that understand and accept him. I loved his friendship with Ronnie and how supportive they are of each other. However, Dean's relationship with his parents was more difficult to read about especially as his mum continues to be in denial about Dean's identity and being trans. The scenes with Dean's parents felt so raw and I wanted to give him a hug.
Reading about Dean's personal experience coming out as trans and the emotional journey that he goes on throughout the book felt so eye-opening. As a cisgender person, this story was perfect for helping me understand the trans experience. The story felt real and realistic and dealt with different aspects of being trans. For example, Dean grapples with which pronouns to use, whether he wants to go on to hormone therapy, and deciding how and when he wants to come out to the people in his life. Ultimately, the story highlights that there is no clear-cut way to deciding how your "coming-out" journey may look, but it's important to make decisions that feel right and fit you. This book may be especially valuable for younger readers to explore LGBTQ+ voices.
Between Perfect and Real is a fresh queer read. At times raw and very real, but remaining an enjoyable read throughout. Please check trigger warnings for this book before reading including themes of transphobia, transphobic violence, bullying, harassment, misgendering, and body dysmorphia amongst others.
3 Falling Books
Thank you to Abrams & Chronicle for providing a copy for review!