A Non-Binary Coming of Age & Romance
I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
- Buy the book here
- Page Count: 336
- Genre: Young Adult, LGBTQ+ Fiction, Romance
- Content warnings: Homophobia, transphobia, misgendering, bad coming out, depression, emotional child abuse
I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver is a Young Adult novel filled with immense heart. The story follows Ben, a high school senior who comes out to their parents as Non-binary and is kicked out of the house. Overnight, Ben’s life is turned upside down. Ben moves in with their older sister Hannah and her husband Thomas, whom Ben has never met.
Ben starts at this new expensive high school in the middle of their senior year, living with a sister who they have not seen in ten years and trying to navigate such an unexpected and drastic change.
On Ben’s first day, they are connected with Nathan, a charismatic and chatty senior who is insistent on being Ben’s friend and tour-guide. As Ben comes to terms with their new situation and the pain of a complicated familial past, they slowly begin to build a new life around them.
It is important to know as a reader that this book does deal with heavy familial trauma, as well as misgendering. Ben does not initially want people at their new school to know that they are Non-binary, so a good portion of the book contains Ben being referred to not by their correct pronouns.
I Wish You All the Best is a beautiful story with a Non-binary protagonist written by a Non-binary author. The story is contemporary young adult romance, and although there are definitely heartbreaking and difficult moments, it is, centrally, about a Non-binary teenager finding love with another person.
The beginning of the story is gut-wrenching to read. Ben is kicked out of their home by their parents without even shoes on their feet. Even with the book omitting the actual aftermath of Ben’s coming out and skipping ahead to when Ben is on the streets alone, it is difficult to get through this section.
With the initial trauma, it seems like the book will not get to ever be lighthearted. But Mason Deaver (They/Them) weaves together a story that is not just sad. It is about identity, it is about building oneself up, and it is about love.
While the book certainly touched upon the struggles of coming out and not being accepted, what defines I Wish You All the Best as a fundamental read is that it does not keep Non-binary characters (or any Queer character, for that matter) from experiencing joy and love. Ben finds friends, and they have real, emotional, and happy experiences. They go a movie in the park, paint their nails with their sister, and create beautiful works of art. There are so incredibly teenage moments in this story, and it does not read like a spiraling tragedy.
Sometimes, LGBTQ+ Young Adult fiction does not have enough representation of happiness for the characters in it. I Wish You All the Best does not shy away from the difficult aspects of coming out and Ben’s familial relationships, but it also allows Ben to experience things outside of those difficulties.
What I loved most about this book was how real the relationships felt between the characters. Besides Ben, the second central character is Nathan. Nathan is such a lovable person — I mean, he likes Star Wars, listens to Troye Sivan, and owns five copies of Pride and Prejudice. I think Nathan was written for me to want him as my own best friend.
Ben also has an internet best friend—Mariam—who is always supportive and willing to give guidance. This friendship is predominantly showcased through online messages and video calls, and it becomes evident how important this constant support is for Ben.
Ben’s relationships to Nathan and Mariam show the value of building up those trusting friendships. For a book intended for a teenage audience, this is an incredibly important message.
My biggest unfulfilled wishes for this book are extending the characterizations and relationships of the minor characters, specifically the art teacher and Nathan’s close friends. We get these brief glimpses of such interesting personalities and long to know more about them. Particularly, the head of student council, Sophie, felt like someone I probably knew (or was) in high school.
I Wish You All the Best is a blend of cute-romance and one teenager’s journey of coming out as Non-binary to the important people in their life. I would definitely recommend this book. It is a reminder that we define ourselves—our identities, our love lives, and our personal journeys.