We are mortal enemies if you don’t own I Wish You All The Best. Seriously.
Spoilers for I Wish You All The Best Ahead.
Proud Of My Identity
“Well, I’m not a girl.”
That was my exact thought when I knew I was non-binary for the first time. I was sitting in a lecture hall before class Snapchatting with a friend. I’m pretty sure it was about a marching band since my old brass captain used to call us all boys as a section joke. You can’t tell gender through the uniform. When he heard that, my friend told me I wasn’t a boy — and I thought, “No.” My gut reaction eventually led to me making my pronouns and name fit me, coming out to everyone I knew slowly but surely, and my family threatening to kick me out.
Realizing I was non-binary, my true identity, who I am, was the loneliest time of my life. I didn’t know anyone else who was non-binary. It felt like it was only me who didn’t feel completely comfortable with their pronouns, completely comfortable with their name, completely comfortable with their body, and their gender, and their life. These experiences feel like the back-of-my-hand to me now. However, my normal became tired and scared. I wasn’t heard or seen, and I didn’t think I ever would be. Which is why I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver is such an important book.
I Wish You All The Best Is The Best
The novel centers around Ben De Backer, a non-binary teenager in their last year of high school. When they decide to come out to their parents, Ben finds themself kicked out of their house. They called on their estranged sister, Hannah, to end up moving in with her and her husband, Thomas. I Wish You All The Best is a book that is truly about Ben accepting themselves for all that they are. Later in the book, Ben says of their parents,
“They don’t deserve my love. And I sure as hell don’t need theirs.”
People who don’t accept Ben for all they are have been cut from their life. They wouldn’t have said that at the beginning of the book. Strong character development has happened at this time. I love it.
I’ve been out for a year and a half, not long at all in retrospect. I Wish You All The Best has many moments that I personally identified with, especially in the early chapters. When Ben’s kicked out, I wrote, “Not listening; not caring about who you are, but what God wants/believes.” Later, on the same page when they are worried about what their sister will think about them being non-binary, I wrote,
“You start worrying about everyone else’s reaction once you get a bad one. It hurts.”
Besides holding very relatable content, the book also contains many moments that nearly made me cry. On page 177, in a conversation with Hannah, Ben thinks about how their sexuality has evolved over time. They think,
“Like who you’re attracted to and who you are as a person are two totally different things. It’s hard to explain not being confident in your own body. It just feels wrong, but only you seem to really know how and why it feels that way.”
I have so many thoughts about my body, and seeing how other characters feel the same resonated so strongly.
The Depiction Of Therapy
The only parts of the novel that I didn’t really identify with were the scenes between Mason and their therapist, Dr. Taylor. They were still strong, but this is the only area where I feel like Ben and I have lived different lives. The first therapy session takes two pages for Dr. Taylor to discuss informed consent and the confidentiality between the therapist and the client to Ben. In the very, very beginning, before we discussed anything, my group therapist talked to me about all this. Maybe it’s different because it was at my college? I’m not sure, but on that page in the book I wrote, “Weird flex! Weird flex!”
I Wish You All The Best Is Important
It’s difficult to be out and proud in a country that seems to shun your very existence. The New York Times published a story about binding that felt like it preyed on all my worst thoughts about stories focused on transgender/non-binary lives. That’s from someone who loves journalism, articles, and stories with everything they’ve got, who wants to make their future career out of it. The current political administration wants to destroy transgender and non-binary lives, harming our ability to be out and happy and free.
In times like these, representation matters. I Wish You All The Best makes me feel my best like I was seen like I was heard. It’s a beautiful, heartfelt read. If this book is not on your shelves, I hope you rectify this mistake and add it there. Now.