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?
Between Perfect and RealFeatured
As he acts the role, he realizes that he is ready to come out, but the process is anything but easy. Starting with his friends and his girlfriend, he begins to share himself. Some people react well, while others do not. As he experiences the pain of deadnaming and misgendering, he also experiences the beauty of life lived identified as his true self, and there is nothing like it.
What I loved: This is such a beautiful story of finding yourself and coming out. Through Dean's eyes, the reader experiences both the joys and pains of the process. He is a really compelling character, and though there were heartbreaking moments, I loved the way he was able to embrace himself. I also appreciated the inclusion of the support group he joins, which shows an important resource, as well as the other fantastic characters he meets there who share their own journeys and help him (and the reader) learn more about gender. The inclusion of different kinds of reception to his coming out was also really powerful.
I loved the play as well, and the way that the reader can feel Dean shine on stage. Even though not everything works out perfectly, it's easy to tell his heart is in acting, and these moments are really great. I also super-loved his friend, Ronnie, and Ronnie's parents. There are so many awesome characters in the book.
Final verdict: A beautiful story about being true to yourself and coming out, BETWEEN PERFECT AND REAL is a heartfelt YA contemporary about theatre, friendship, and gender identity. Highly recommend for YA readers of all ages.