Wednesday, May 15, 2019

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

Yes, yes, YES. I loved this book so much!

Ben De Backer has finally decided it's time they come out to their parents as nonbinary. While Ben knows their parents, particularly their father, are difficult and have strong religious beliefs, in the end Ben thinks that their parents should be okay with their coming out. Ben is their child after all, right?

Ben couldn't have been more wrong. Their parents kick Ben out of the house and with nowhere to turn, not even shoes on their feet, Ben turns to their estranged sister, Hannah, who left home 10 years ago and never looked back.

Although it takes a moment for Hannah and her husband, Thomas, to understand what nonbinary even means, there's no question that they will take Ben into their home. Hannah feels so much guilt about leaving Ben behind with their parents all those years ago, and Ben only knew she was married via social media. But Hannah is determined to help Ben deal with the stress of accepting their identity coupled with their parents' rejection.

"Like, what do you do when your parents kick you out of your house? When your entire life is upheaved, all because you wanted to come out, to be respected and seen, to be called the right pronouns?"

As Ben tries to settle into a new high school for one last semester before graduation, they hope to keep a low profile. But that plan is quickly thwarted when Ben meets Nathan Allan, whose charm and humor make him seem almost larger than life. Nathan wants to be Ben's friend and doesn't understand why they keep pushing him away, so little by little Ben's defenses come down and they open up to the idea of Nathan's friendship, and in turn, Nathan's best friends as well. It's difficult, though, to be close with people from whom you're keeping your true self secret, but Ben isn't interested in the possibility of rejection again.

While Ben tries to reconcile their conflicted feelings toward Hannah and deal with panic attacks and anxiety, they're also frightened by how much Nathan is starting to mean to them. Can Ben find the courage to let Nathan know the truth about them? Would Nathan push them away? And even if Nathan were interested in them, is it worth exploring when Nathan is set to leave North Carolina for college in just three months?

Dealing with just one of these issues is tough for anyone, but all of them compounded prove immensely challenging for Ben. They find themselves turning more and more to their therapist and Mariam, their only nonbinary friend, with whom Ben speaks via Skype and text. Mariam has made a career from their experiences accepting their identity and living their life openly, and they want Ben to do the same.

I Wish You All the Best is a beautiful, moving book about everyone's right to be happy with who they are, and their need to be surrounded by love and friendship. It's such an amazing story about how you can't tackle all of your problems on your own—only by letting people in can you start to achieve happiness and self-acceptance. At times it's a difficult book to read, because of the emotions and challenges Ben has to deal with, and how difficult it is for them to communicate how they feel, but it seemed immensely realistic, and I found myself hoping that Ben would find their way through this.

Mason Deaver brought so much humor, emotion, and hope to this book. These characters were amazing. I read the entire thing in just a few hours and loved it so much. I really found it a tremendous learning experience for me, because I'll admit I don't know nearly enough about nonbinary people. I hope this book gets into the hands of those who need it most.

If you follow my reviews you know how much I marvel at the tremendous amount of talent in the YA genre in particular. I love the courage and boldness with which these authors tackle difficult subjects, and I am so thankful that there are so many authors like Deaver willing to share their own struggles with readers in the hope they can reach those who need to hear, and see, that progress and happiness and acceptance may seem impossible to fathom, but it truly is possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment