I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

Title: I Wish You All the Best
Author: Mason Deaver
Publication date: 2019

Date started: 02/02/2020
Date finished: 03/02/2020

First sentence: “Ben, honey, are you feeling well?”
Last sentence: “‘I wish you all the best, Benjamin De Backer.’ They aren’t the same words, but I know exactly what he means. ‘I love you too.’”
Favorite sentence: “Be sad, hell, sit in bed all weekend and just watch Netflix. I’ve had those times too. But don’t stop living your life for them.”

Content warning: very abusive parenting (transphobia, manipulation, gaslighting, screaming, threat of physical violence), queer teenager being kicked out of their house, misgendering

Summary: Ben is nonbinary, but isn’t out to anyone, and is scared to come out to their family. One happy evening during the Christmas holidays, they feel like the timing is good, and they come out to their parents. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go well, and they are immediately kicked out of their house, without shoes nor phone… After crying in the street for a while, they find a pay phone and call their sister, Helen, which they haven’t seen for 10 years. She answers and comes to get them before bringing them home. Ben comes out to her and her husband the next day, and they take it well, although they take a bit of time to get the pronouns right. Helen is incredibly mad at her parents, but she knew they were abusive, as this was the reason she left the house never to return when she finished high school. Helen’s husband is a teacher in the local school, and he helps Ben enroll there, but Ben insist that their gender identity remain a secret. They start in their new school and things go alright. They also start therapy, at first reluctantly, but after some time they realize that it helps them deal with their trauma and anxiety attacks. At school, they meet Nathan, a nice teenager in charge of showing them around, and Nathan introduces Ben to his friends. Ben spends a lot of time in the art class, especially after the teacher gave them the key to it. They slowly start to get a crush on Nathan, but doesn’t want to come out to him as non binary because they don’t know how he’ll react, and they don’t want to pursue him without being honest about their identity… They also get really hurt by Nathan using gendered terms for them regularly, but prefer to put up with it for now. One day, Ben has an art exhibition at their school, and their parents show up in surprise… Helen confronts them about their horrible behavior, and soon they are screaming at each other, with Ben stuck in the middle, scared that they’ll get outed in front of the whole school. The outing doesn’t happen, but Ben is angry at Helen for creating a scene, drawing attention to them and revealing they had been kicked out of their house. They’re also angry at Helen for ‘abandoning’ them with their parents when they were a child, even though they understand that she had to leave for her own well being. Ben’s best friend, Mariam, a non binary hijabi youtuber, tells them that they’re coming to their town soon to give a lecture in the local lgbtq+ center, and Ben wants to go see them but is stressed to see them in real life for the first time! They ask Nathan to come with, and before going in the center, they come out to him. Nathan clearly doesn’t mind, and reassures them about it. They end up getting together, and Ben decides against going to college, because they’ll start working with Mariam instead!

Opinion: This was really good! I’ve read a few books with non binary main characters and so far this was my favorite! Unfortunately, it still had its fair share of transphobia, misgendering, parental abuse and such, but overall it was still much more hopeful than many other books. You can really tell the author is non binary because of how personal the experience feels, and how the microagressions are described. I felt that the emphasis on mental health was well written, the importance of therapy was highlighted, and the panic attacks and overall trauma weren’t romanticized. The love story was quite sweet, but writing this a few months after finishing this book, I honestly forgot most of it, remembering mostly the gender-related things instead. It felt great to have a main character using they/them and being respected by their found family ❤

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