I Wish You All the Best
by Mason Deaver
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Published: May 14th 2019
Rating: I will love this book forever. Which is bold because I just finished it. I love Ben that much.
Times read: 1
Recommended by: pretty sure twitter but it is the kind of book I autobuy so it could have been anywhere.
I am pretty sure that this is the first book that I have read with an enby main character — and seeing as how I have almost a hundred LGBTQIA+ YA books on my kindle that is kind of shocking. This also tells me tells me that we need more of these books immediately. I Wish You All the Best is the story of 18-year-old Ben, who is kicked out of his parents home for coming out as nonbinary and how they pick themselves up in the aftermath. Full disclosure: I spent most of this book either crying or with a lump in my throat.
Ben. What can I say about Ben? I loved them so much. Like "I have lost touch with reality and forgotten that they are a fictional character and just want to protect them and watch as they do beautiful things in the world," loved Ben. They aren't super cool, witty, or stylish, but they are so real. Their growth over the book was uneven. They had a hard time admitting to and articulating certain feelings, especially negative feelings, which was hugely relatable for me. It takes me FOREVER to process how I feel, especially if I think I "should" not have those feeling.
Some things that I loved and appreciated as an adult reader who happens to be a teacher: Ben has supportive adults in their life. These adults might not be his parents, but he finds ways to ask for and accept the help he needs. Ben goes to therapy and gets medication. Neither are miracles cures for their feelings, but it is so important for this to be shown.
Nathan is adorable. How Mason Deaver managed to write such an extroverted character without making me roll my eyes, I will never know. There was a gentleness to his character that I truly appreciated. He is the sort of character who can make holding hands emotionally intimate. I will ship this hard and forever.
This is a quiet story. The plot centers on figuring out how to live as yourself rather than on anything "happening." There isn't any drama. I think that that is one of the reasons that it feels so true to life. Reality doesn't have a plotline. In life, just keep going and deal with things as they come. For example, Ben struggles with being misgendered both accidentally and on purpose and the pain that it causes them is tangible. There is a lot of sadness and learning to let other people go when they are hurting you but also there is joy in letting yourself express your true self.
I Wish You All the Best needs to be in every school library ever. Both for the enby kids that NEED it like air and for the other kids who need it to help them see and feel what it is like to be in those shoes. I am recommending this book to everyone, and it will definitely be a reread.
When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they're thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents' rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.
But Ben's attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan's friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.
At turns heartbreaking and joyous, I Wish You All the Best is both a celebration of life, friendship, and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity.