Between Perfect and Real

Abrams/Amulet. Apr. 2021. 304p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781419746017.
Gr 7 Up–When Dean is unexpectedly cast as Romeo in the high school play, he realizes that he’s a trans man. The plot follows the five-act structure of Romeo and Juliet as Dean goes through the process of finding himself and coming out all over again during rehearsals and performances for the play. Throughout the story, Dean’s friends, girlfriend, and drama teacher affirm his identity, with some challenges, while Dean’s parents struggle more with the news. While Dean is bullied by one classmate and has a fight with his mom, by and large the adults and teens in his life range from moderately to extremely supportive, and while no one else in Dean’s life or school is trans, he is able to find a trans community in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Dean’s process of figuring out his identity and his love of acting will be relatable to many teens, and Stoeve does not shy away from the nuances of navigating life after coming out. Dean and his family are identified as white, while his friends have a variety of racial identities.
VERDICT A coming-out story with a nod to Romeo and Juliet. Recommended for purchase.

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