Between Perfect and Real

Ray Stoeve

fiction contemporary lgbtqia+ young adult
emotional slow-paced

304 pages | first published 2021

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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summary of 33 ratings (see reviews)

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emotional 94%
hopeful 82%
reflective 64%
inspiring 52%
informative 35%
challenging 29%
funny 11%
sad 11%
lighthearted 5%
tense 5%


medium 56%
fast 31%
slow 12%

Plot- or character-driven?

Character: 75% | A mix: 25%

Strong character development?

Yes: 93% | It's complicated: 6%

Loveable characters?

Yes: 80% | It's complicated: 20%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 100%

Flaws of characters a main focus?

Yes: 50% | It's complicated: 41% | No: 8%

Average rating