I Wish You All the Best
It’s just three words: I am nonbinary. But that’s all it takes to change everything.
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.
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So, there was a lot of excitement surrounding this book when it was published. I picked it up from the library and expected to fly through it. I picked it up, but it took me about a week to push myself to read. I was surprised, but I still managed to complete reading this book. I did like the book… it was just missing something.
Ben is kicked out by their parents and has to go live with their sister. So while adjusting to a new school and being back around their sister, Ben meets Nathan, and they become friends. Ben isn’t out to anyone except a close friend, some family, and their therapist. They doesn’t want to be out at school, but is bothered when they are mis-gendered. Ben is having anxiety about the changes, but their therapist is wonderful.
This book is so lovely, but I wanted more than I was given.
Here’s what I love about this book:
Nonbinary rep is flawless. Ben is nonbinary and so is their best friend. I love how it is just who they both are, and they are so supportive. As someone who is nonbinary, the rep is so amazing. Seeing yourself in a book is so… freeing and wonderful. I can’t imagine how awesome it will be for a teen struggling and picks up this book and sees themselves. It makes me happy cry to just imagine.
The family system of Ben’s sister and brother in-law are great. They call Hannah and she shows up. Ben lives with them and they work hard to respect pronouns and help them deal with the life changes. Even though there’s some past issues to work through, the family support and respect for Ben is fabulous.
Nathan, the friend and love interest. He’s so much fun and just one of my favorite characters from a book I’ve read in awhile. He just wants to be friends with Ben, and I’m sad the romance didn’t happen sooner but I understand why.
Here’s what I didn’t love:
Ben’s parents are horrible. I know they are meant to be, but I hate homophobic people. They aren’t redeemed and don’t deserve to be. But my heart hurts for how they hurt Ben. It’s tragic people are actually like this even now.
The distance between Ben and the reader. The entire time I was reading the book, I was waiting for the emotional connection. I understand the journey they face,but there was not the emotion I hoped for. It talks about the journey and anxiety, but I don’t feel like Ben and their emotions came across clearly. I just wanted more than I was given, just more emotions and glimpses into their full thoughts.
How short the book was… I think because it’s such a personal situation as a nonbinary person, I wanted a long book. It’s the perfect length for YA, but I just longed for a more intense story with emotion.
This book is gorgeous, and I can’t recommend it enough. I know so many people adore it, and I’m so excited for the nonbinary rep we’re given in the book. I just hope the next book Mason Deaver writes has more emotion. I can’t wait for teens to read this book and understand their identities better or learn about what their family or friends could be going through. I recommend this book to everyone, even if I didn’t love as much as I thought I would.