Book Reviews

Review: Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve

A book featuring a trans MC who is cast as Romeo in “Romeo and Juliet”? Count me in! It’s a fabulous story about finding your voice. About the process of identity, of friendship, and love. I read this practically in one sitting I was that absorbed. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


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?


(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: transphobia, homophobia, misgendering, deadnaming, gender dysphoria, outting

Between Perfect and Real examines the space between what we expect and reality. The space between our dreams and pedestals and our every day lives and struggles. This book is about bridging that gap. About recognizing the spaces between and how we bring them together. Dean’s cast role as Romeo helps give voice and language to a feeling Dean’s been struggling with forever. At the same time, it also confronts him with scary questions, coming out, and his girlfriend. Between Perfect and Real was emotional and heart wrenching.

It’s tender and explorative as Dean figures out what this means for his life and his future. There are moments of joy as he figures out what his future could hold. Yet at the same time there are real moments of sadness as the future he envisioned crumbles, as he is bullied and as he comes out to his parents. Between Perfect and Real is complex. It celebrates friendships which are supportive, ones that makes mistakes, and everything in between. It features love that hurts, that you want to work out, that fights the writing on the wall.

Between Perfect and Real illustrates how perfect isn’t real. But how what we can make can be better. It’s a story about possibilities and pain, growth and the future. Full of heart warming moments, ones that wrench your heart into knots, it’s an important read about gender, coming out, and identity. Find Between Perfect and Real on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite trans ownvoices contemporary?

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