DISCLAIMER: This review involves mentions of strong topics including transphobia, homophobia, and verbal abuse. If any of the mentioned categories negatively affect you, do not continue reading.
I Wish You All The Best is the first novel in a young adult, coming-of-age, romance series, written by Mason Deaver. The novel follows Benjamin (Ben) De Backer, and their story of coming out as non-binary to their family, (non-binary is an umbrella term for someone whose gender doesn’t fit with male or female). Ben’s parents kicked them out of the house, only leaving them with the clothes on their back, and the socks on their feet. Ben’s sister, Hannah, has been absent in their life for an estimated ten years. Hannah, however, has no problem with Ben being non-binary, as shown in the quote, “So, Mom and Dad kicked you out for that?” (Deaver 19). Attempting to avoid unnecessary publicity, Ben moves in with Hannah and starts at a new school. Nathan Allan, a fellow senior, is fairly adamant to become friends with Ben, considering their school doesn’t get many new students. Ben and Nathan grow closer, but soon after their friendship commences, their feelings start to change.
I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver is one of my favorite books ever written because the rawness and authenticity of it left me in a puddle of smiles, ready to explode. Many known authors also enjoy this book; for example, Stonewall Award-winning author Meredith Russo’s comments, “Tender and bursting with humanity, I Wish You All The Best tells a heartwarming queer love story without compromise.”
I believe Deaver wanted to tackle the topics of gender identity and growing up queer–two topics that are not talked about enough in society. Deaver definitely succeeded in reaching their intended audience of queer youth by incorporating these two topics into their book.
One of the things that makes this novel my favorite, is that there wasn’t a slow start. In other words, I didn’t have to wait 40 pages for the first concept to begin, it was all from the first page ‘till the last.
Something I wasn’t expecting was the amount of detailed anxiety in this novel. Similar to myself, Ben struggles with severe and social anxiety disorders. Reading these scenes was like reliving my own experiences with anxiety. Although I was able to relate to it, I wish I had known about the extensive detail of their panic attacks and anxiety prior to reading this novel.
It’s character analysis hour! I love breaking down characters in novels and trying to see things from their POV, getting into their head.
Let’s start with our main character, Ben De Backer. I did not like Ben’s character as much as I wished I had. Ben was boring, and their character never gave in-depth responses. Also, minus two points for never making the main character happy. Moving on, Nathan Allan is cocky, funny, hilarious in serious moments, but most importantly, he’s a good friend to Ben. I would have liked to see more of Nathan. The last character analysis is the one and only Hannah Waller, Ben’s sister. Hannah made a mistake abandoning Ben, although she actively tries to fix it throughout the book. I do have a small suspicion that the only reason Hannah took Ben under her wing was mostly because of the guilt she had of leaving.
I Wish You All The Best includes several heavy topics, many of which I wish I’d known about beforehand. Some of the topics that may be triggering include homophobia, transphobia, gender dysphoria (the uneasiness someone may have because their biological sex does not match their gender identity,) detailed anxiety/panic attacks, misgendering, and emotional abuse.
Deaver published their astonishing novel on May 14th of 2019. Later that year, their book was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Fiction; however, the novel did not end up winning the award.
While most duologies (two books in a series) are full novels, Deaver didn’t write a full novel as the second story. Instead, they wrote something called a novella, (a piece of text that is shorter than a novel, but longer than a short story.) I’ll Be Home For Christmas is a 60-page story that follows Ben while they plan the ultimate Christmas gift for Nathan. I haven’t read Deaver’s novella, but it is definitely on my ‘to be read’ list!
Overall, I Wish You All The Best is an attention-grabbing, must-read, and short novel that was easy to dive into. Throughout this novel, Deaver found a way to incorporate serious themes into a lighthearted story. The chance to start over and become a new person doesn’t come often, so Ben takes the chance when they see it.