On Our Shelves Now
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?
About the Author
Ray Stoeve is a queer, nonbinary writer from Seattle, Washington. They received a 2016-2017 Made at Hugo House Fellowship for their young adult fiction. When they’re not writing, they can be found baking, gardening, making art in other mediums, or hiking their beloved Pacific Northwest. They live in an intentional community in Seattle with their partner and chosen family. This is their debut novel.
“Between Perfect and Real manages to be both powerful and feel like a warm hug, written with love for every trans and nonbinary young reader, offering guidance on their paths. Informative and hopeful, I know that this book will change and save lives. A beautiful debut!”
— Kacen Callender, National Book Award winner
“Thoughtful, honest, and full of hope. Ray Stoeve’s Between Perfect and Real is bursting at the seams with so many of my favorite things: friendship, community, and theatre.”
— Amy Spalding, author of We Used to Be Friends
"Dramatic, hilarious, and heartbreaking. I fell for these characters so hard."
— Mason Deaver, bestselling author of I Wish You All the Best
“An astounding debut overflowing with heart. Stoeve beautifully captures the world of high school theater as much as they also give teens a story about the pitfalls of holding others to impossible, unfair standards. I spent the whole book rooting for Dean and his incredible group of friends. This is exactly the kind of book I needed long, long ago.”
— Mark Oshiro, author of Anger is a Gift and Each of Us a Desert
“Between Perfect and Real perfectly captures the rollercoaster ride of being a queer high school senior. Stoeve gives voice to the heartbreaks and triumphs of regular kid life in that time when we're all trying to figure out who we've been, who we are, and who we want to be. A beautiful read.”
— Daisy Eagan, writer and Tony Award-winning actor
"Stoeve's Between Perfect and Real is a funny, heartfelt and utterly enchanting debut that explores all the complexities of teenagehood–love, friendship, identity, and what it means to be brave. An outstanding and necessary new voice in the YA canon!"
— Jay Coles, author of Tyler Johnson Was Here and Things We Couldn't Say
"Dean’s journey is tender, emotional, honest, and unafraid to face both the pain and joy of coming out. Through Dean’s authentic and hopeful voice, Stoeve expertly crafts a powerful exploration of who we can become when we have the courage to choose our own paths."
"Not settling for pat, one-dimensional explanations, the story is honest about the uncertainty, self-consciousness, confusion, and fear that can accompany transition while being validating and supportive of its trans protagonist."
— Kirkus Reviews
"Stoeve perfectly encapsulates the experience of a teen’s trans awakening. . .This #ownvoices verse Bildungsroman is an invaluable guidebook for readers in a state of gender self-realization."
— Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books