Hi everyone! I hope you’re all doing well! I’m, thankfully, well out of my reading slump (touch wood) and I’m really enjoying what I’ve been reading! My last read was the fantastic I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver which had me crying at midnight last night as I finished it, and I thought it deserved a whole review to itself! So, without any further ado, here are my thoughts on the book!
Title: I Wish You All the Best
Author: Mason Deaver
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, Young Adult
Synopsis: 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.
I had very high expectations of Mason Deaver’s debut novel after seeing so many glowing reviews from reviewers that I trust, and I was definitely not let down! I Wish You All the Best follows Ben, who after coming out to their parents as nonbinary gets kicked out of the house. Ben calls their sister that they haven’t seen in ten years to come and pick them up and ends up moving state to live with her. As Ben starts their new school, they meet Nathan, who offers to show Ben round the school, and the two quickly become good friends.
I loved Ben as a main character, and I particularly loved their passion for art. Although I’m not a very creative person, I do love when books have something to do with art, music, film, theatre, and the like, and this book didn’t disappoint! Ben is also quite a closed off and private kinda person and I didn’t feel like that part of their personality was overdone in any way. A really positive aspect of the book is the inclusion of therapy and anti-anxiety medication – I’ve read a couple of newer YA books featuring therapy over the past year, and I love that it’s being shown in a positive light, but I’ve never seen medication been shown in a positive light like this before, so I was very pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t just mentioned that Ben takes Xanax and then conveniently glossed over, it’s brought up several times throughout the book, and even mentions Ben noting down their doses and when they take them, as well as discussing changing doses with their therapist, and I really appreciated that Mason Deaver is taking the time to help normalise that experience. I also really loved Nathan – he’s so energetic and kind and just such a good person! He was extremely understanding and considerate of Ben and their mental health and it was so lovely to see their friendship slowly grow into something more (they were both so oblivious and it was so painful to read because I just wanted them to express their feelings for each other!).
There were some really great discussions that took place in the book, that I also really appreciated, such as the intersectionality of gender and sexuality. Ben mentions that at first they thought that they might be gay, but then after coming out as nonbinary they struggled with the definitions of different sexualities and instead settled on queer. This is a discussion that has popped up a lot recently, and is something I struggled with too, when I came out as agender, as their are so many nuances within both sexuality and gender, but ultimately it is up to the person themselves to define their sexuality, and sometimes labels don’t work for them at all, and that’s okay. There was also a really valuable discussion on forgiveness – Ben’s parents try to meet up with them and apologise (albeit not in a very good way), and the discussion on whether or not you have to forgive those who wrong you was, in my opinion, very well done. It was refreshing to see a narrative that didn’t centre on having to forgive everyone in order to move on and heal.
Overall, it was a really sweet read that I didn’t expect to make me tear up (who knew the title itself would be what set off the waterworks!), and the only reason I deducted a star from my rating was that I felt that it followed a very standard plot framework (not sure if that’s the correct wording!) that a lot of YA contemporaries follow, but I’m sure for many people it’ll be something that they enjoy, and so I highly recommend this one, especially to cis readers, who I think can take some very important discussions away from it!