“I don’t know whether to cry or scream or do both. It feels like I’ve done more than enough of both. And it feels like I haven’t done enough.”
You know when a book makes you cry five times that it’s gotta be good. Either that, or very, very sad. I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver manages be both—not to mention sweet, funny, romantic, and all-too-relatable at times. (And not just because the book is set in Raleigh, where I lived for 15 years. And the main character has the very same name as my own little sib. Cue X-files theme!)
This book follows Ben, a nonbinary teenager, who is kicked out by their parents after coming out to them at New Year. Consequently, Ben is forced to leave their entire life behind and move in with Hannah, their estranged older sister who left the family ten years before. As if high school isn’t a nightmare enough on its own, Ben has to finish their last semester while dealing with panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and (on the more positive side) the relentlessly friendly attention of their new classmate Nathan.
This book hit me hard, both in the gender-feels and mental-health-feels department. While I love the recent influx of stories in which queer characters get to be themselves and go on adventures without worrying about homophobia or transphobia (usually only possible in speculative fiction, unfortunately), I feel that these sorts of stories are just as vital. Trans teens like Ben need to see that even if the worst comes to the worst, even if they end up rejected by the very people in their lives who ought to love them unconditionally, they can still have a happy ending—still find love and family, still build a healthy and happy life despite the awful things they’ve been through. This was such a bittersweet but heart-warming book, and I’m so glad that teens today get to grow up in a world where books like this are waiting for them.