Book Review: I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book by a trans or nonbinary author Other PS 2020 reading prompts this would satisfy: ...

PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book by a trans or nonbinary author

Other PS 2020 reading prompts this would satisfy: A bildungsroman, A book with at least a four-star rating on Goodreads

TW: Discrimination against non-binary gender people, child abandonment

I am very into YA books lately, and was thrilled when someone in a book group I'm in offered to send I Wish You All the Best my way. Before their post, I had never heard of the novel, but I am so grateful to have been given an opportunity to read it. This is another book that made me really think about my own actions and ways of thinking, which is one of my favorite things about YA, which offer such opportunity to read diverse stories about diverse characters from diverse authors.

Ben has a secret, one they no longer want to hold in. They are nonbinary, and are ready to share this integral part of their identity with their parents. But things don't go as planned, and they get kicked out of the house. Shoeless, phoneless, and alone, Ben calls their estranged sister for help. She rushes to their side, and takes them in. Now Ben's halfway through senior year, in a new place, in a new school, and worried about having to come out again and again. They just want to get through senior year, so they can feel like they can finally be whole and open about their identity.

I went into this book and was hooked by page one. Ben is such a likeable character, one that I really connected with right away. There were absolutely times where I got a bit frustrated with them and wanted to shout "just be honest!," but I had to remind myself of when they'd been honest and how that was such a negative experience for them. This book really made me think about Ben's situation and how the situation translates to real life. It made me think about how we make assumptions about people - not just their gender identity, but the assumptions we make about all kinds of things. It truly reiterated to me that we never know what folks are going through, and we have to be able provide a place of comfort, vulnerability, and support, but also allow folks to share with us when they're ready.

Each of the characters in I Wish You All the Best were so real. I felt so connected to so many of them. I appreciated Ben's sister and brother-in-law, with their flaws, but also because they were trying to be good humans. I enjoy when a character is realistically flawed, and those types of characters were apparent in their flaws and their goodness within this novel. I mostly loved Ben and Nathan, who were both precious and so human, and oddly opposites. I really appreciated their friendship and firm connection to each other.

"If you're queer, your life has the potential to become one long coming-out moment. If I ever want to be called the right pronouns, I'll have to correct people and put myself out there first and who knows what could happen." -I Wish You All the Best, Mason Deaver

This has absolutely been one of the best books I've read all year. While I've read books written by nonbinary or trans authors, I have never read a book with a main character who identified as nonbinary, and I loved reading a book from the perspective of someone with that identity. As trans and nonbinary identities are not uncommon, I hope to see more and more fiction novels released with protagonists with identities other than cis in the future.

Goodreads rating: ★★★★★

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