Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve
Release Date: April 27, 2021
Why I love this book: Reason number 1 is that this book is full of wonderful, complex, real people, and doesn't shy away from showing all sides of what High School can be like... the good and the bad. Centering on Dean and his journey of self-identifying and coming out this story really gives Dean space to think about and learn about what he wants, and in turn it allows the reader insight into what that process can be like. I think that there is a tendency to view someone's path as cut and dry, for instance, they just know they are a boy ebnd of story, and then the journey becomes about how to come out. Sometimes, maybe most of the time, the reality is that it takes years of little moments that piece together to make the whole picture. That's hard to capture in a book sometimes, but Stoeve does a great job weaving together the threads of who Dean is. Here we find Dean at the moment he has to meet it head on- he is cast as a Romeo in the school play, even though he has not publically come out as trans, even though people still know him as a girl. Getting the role brings it all to a head and Dean has to decide what he really wants and how he wants to do it.
I also fully appreciate that we see the full spectrum of relationships- we get to see friends who immediately accept Dean, we see others who want to accepting and understanding, but who don't have the capacity to do so, and we see the hateful people as well. We see people who want to do right by Dean, but don't. We see people who want to do right by Dean, but don't. Through it all we see Dean becoming the person he wants to be, and making choices about what that will look like. It's a wonderfully written story, and, like many of the books I've read lately, are ones that I wish we had when I was a kid. The fact that I can now hand my students books that reflect a wide range of experiences is one of the best parts of being a librarian.
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