Buy it on AMAZON
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
I Wish You All the Best was such an angsty and achingly honest depiction of mental illness, gender identification, sexual exploration and the confusing experience of being a teenager. While I could sing the praises of this book for it’s quiet, yet significant contribution to acceptance of identifying as non-binary, what this book really does well (almost better than any book I’ve ever read in this genre) is relate an almost perfectly accurate depiction of the teenage psyche. The messiness of finding yourself, lack of self-confidence and inability to maturely respond to complicated situations was present throughout this book.
That’s not to say that this is one angst-filled ride full of bad choices. It’s a very well-written and believable portrayal of the experiences associated with growing up and the slow adaption to change that is a fundamental part of maturing. While the angst in this book could get frustrating at times, it was so unabashedly honest in its authenticity. I couldn’t help but relate to my own similar experiences. This is a book that will break your heart, patch it back up again and leave you with the scar to remember. I loved every word of it!
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.
I waited a few days after reading this book to write the review. My emotions were all over the place, I had too much to say and quite frankly everything I want to say will seem inadequate. That’s not to say this book is a literary masterpiece. It’s written simply in a direct and open manner that forces you to pay attention and truly hear what Deaver is trying to say. While this book plays an important part in providing acceptance and raising awareness for recognition of non-binary as a gender, in addition to the notion that gender should not be limited to traditional conventions, it also speaks out about parental influence and how acceptance can mean so much to individual’s who’ve had their own path to accept their identity.
The romance in I Wish You All the Best was slow-burn, thoroughly developed and even at the end (quite) tentative. It felt like the first time you fall in love. The increased attraction, sharp emotions, confusion over mixed signals and all-encompassing joy. Deaver captured and highlighted the small instances that can seem all so important when you’re young and in love. Holding hands. Sharing music, art, memories. It wasn’t rushed and there was no all-is-perfect HEA. It was a well-balanced ending that suited their age, lack of experience and uncertainty in the near future. I was SO HAPPY to see a novel finally write young love in a way that wasn’t insta-love (although that’s not entirely inauthentic for the age group) but instead put emphasis on the slow growth of feelings. It was aching and sweet and oh, so relatable.
What I also adored about this book was its portrayal of a dysfunctional family and the complications associated with beliefs that condemn the actions and decisions of those you love. It was heart-breaking to see the seemingly perfect (from the outside) De Backer’s unravel bit by bit. No single character in this book was without flaws and questionable decision-making. Nothing is easy when it comes to family and Deaver’s honest approach showcased the long-lasting impact one small decision can have on the lives of those you love and change a family’s dynamic forever.
While I don’t have any bad things to say about this book (I loved it!) I would feel remiss not to note that I don’t think this book would be rated the same by everyone. The teenage confusion and angst written by Deaver can be frustrating to read at times but its authenticity made this enjoyable for me. I’m not sure if everyone else would find it so. I can relate to this from my own experiences but if you were a very well-adjusted teen perhaps this might not be as relatable to you? It’s something to bear in mind at least.
// have you read I Wish You All the Best? what were your thoughts on it? //