“This is it; this is the moment when someone appears out of nowhere, demands to know what I’m doing with clothes for the wrong gender.”
Between Perfect and Real is a stunning and moving debut about finding your voice, being confident with who you are, and coming into your own. Dean Foster, the main protagonist is going through a lot of struggles with their identity as they are pretty sure they are transgender but their girlfriend, friends, and other family think they’re a lesbian. Dean is struggling with coming to terms with that and understanding that some people close to him may not be as accepting as they want. But, when Dean gets cast as the untraditional Romeo for the school play, things start to change as he feels this is their time to embrace who they are truthfully and authentically.
It didn’t take me long to become fully invested in the story especially with Dean’s journey throughout the book. While the book is full of moving and heart warming moments where you see Dean become more comfortable with themselves, there are also moments that break your heart and you want to give Dean a hug and tell them everything will be okay. I feel like I felt every emotion while reading this book and the way Stoeve fleshes out his characters, main and side makes you feel like you know them. They were very real and relatable especially Dean who wanted to not only be accepted by others who they really were but find that self-acceptance.
I very much enjoyed the LGBT with the other main and side characters. Zoe who is Dean’s girlfriend is lesbian, Ronnie is Dean’s best friend is black and gay, Allison, one of Dean’s and Zoe’s good friends, is japanese-american and bisexual, and then there are Nina and Jade who are trans and non-binary. I loved how welcoming they were and providing Dean and each other with love, acceptance, and support.
I really enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to anyone as it was a very moving and empowering debut on coming into your own and being proud of it.