Reviews for Between Perfect and Real, by Ray Stoeve

oceansofnovels's review against another edition

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emotional hopeful informative inspiring reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

5.0

Dean's journey of realising he's transgender and coming to terms with it is extremely authentic and relatable. When I was figuring out my gender identity I went through the same anguish, I questioned whether I was trans enough, and I spent so much time watching videos of trans people on youtube, just like Dean does in this book. 

I love the Dean was cast as Romeo, and I loved his friendship with Ronnie. Dean's girlfriend, Zoe, was problematic at times. In my experience, her character is very realistic and true to life, as I'm sure many trans people have had a Zoe in their life who appears to mean well but is actually kinda causing harm instead. 

It was interesting to see that Dean's dad was supportive while his mom wasn't, in stories like this it's usually the other way around with dad's being unsupportive so that was quite refreshing. I really enjoyed the theatre scenes, as well as every scene in which Dean's gender was affirmed. The bullying storyline was pretty awful, Blake did some really horrible things, it was sad to read at times but I know that unfortunately many trans people go through that type of bullying so it's good to see that part of being trans explored on page. 

This is one of the most important books I've read to date and I highly recommend it to trans and cis readers alike.

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valereads's review

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emotional hopeful reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

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



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ilikebooks_okay's review

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challenging emotional informative medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

This was such a great an informative read! I always love seeing people's different experiences with their gender as I relate strongly to this topic!
I really think Ray Stoeve did amazing and has produced an amazing debut novel!

I'm not the biggest fan of books revolving around acting classes and such as I usually find those scenes a bit boring lol but in this book it was such a crucial element! As you could see Dean explore his own transness when he is given a lead male role!

"So it's up to you to decide how you want to look, what makes you feel like yourself."

I also loved the diversity of characters ranging in identities, sexualities, age and ethnicities. Which is also why I was a little disappointed that some people you just don't learn enough about! There were so many characters that peaked my interest but weren't delved into really at all. I hope this however opens up more books to go with this one!

"I want the life I never got"

I could bring up more however my review is getting pretty long :,) overall this was a brilliant book which delved into coming to terms with transness from all points of views which I really loved. This was heartbreaking at times but also really inspirational! I defiently recommend! :)

"The possibilies are endless."

Tw: Transphobia, Deadnaming

Thank you to NetGalley and publishers for this free eArc, this is my honest review.

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domreadsall's review against another edition

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challenging hopeful reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

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. 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.

avareads's review

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emotional hopeful inspiring sad fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.5


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c_agano's review

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emotional hopeful inspiring sad medium-paced

5.0

emmm_reads's review

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  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

4.0


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anniekslibrary's review against another edition

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5.0

"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)

jarka120's review against another edition

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5.0

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.

canonicallychaotic's review against another edition

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4.0

thank you to netgalley and abrams kids for a free e-arc of between perfect and real in exchange for an honest review.

this book is going to mean a lot to someone one day.

i feel like i could say that for many (every) lgbtq+ book i read. but it’s worth saying. this book is going to mean a lot to someone one day, and i’m so glad it exists.

between perfect and real introduces us to dean who just wants to be himself as he is: a trans guy. but he is still trying to figure out how to do that, and what it means for him. it’s a story about coming into who you are, while coming out to others. about how dean had to perform every day of his life, until he is cast as romeo in the school play and for the first time feels like he isn’t acting.

this book had me from the first page, the first lines of the first chapter. and knowing that a kid out there one day can pick this up and see their thoughts on page and know that they’re not alone? that what they’re thinking matters? that’s so important. and it’s important that cis people (such as myself) are able to read these words and empathize as well.

a quick list of other things i enjoyed about this book: a cast diverse in sexuality and race! teenage characters that feel like teenagers! senior year stresses that i don’t miss at all! high school theatre that i miss everyday! theatre kids playing zip zap zop which is so integral to every theatre class!

other notes: this is stoeve’s ya debut, and it does at times come across as a debut novel in the witting. however, i look forward to stoeve’s growth and expect great work from them in the future!