Skip to main content

YA Book Review: I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver


I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver 
Overview: Ben is nonbinary. The book opens with them working up the courage to finally come out to their parents. Even though his parents are religious and conservative, Ben feels like it might be okay. Mostly, they feel like they can't keep living with a secret that big. They want their parents to know them fully. Instead of love and support, they get thrown out of the house. Ben calls their older sister who they haven't seen in ten years, but she shows up right away. As Ben transitions to living with their sister and her husband, they have to navigate a brand new school, a new family situation, and a new therapist all at once. While it's a lot to process, Ben comes out stronger, healthier, and happier on the other side. Overall: 5 

Characters: 5 Ben and I have honestly nothing in common yet I found them so incredibly relatable on a minute detail level. We have a ton of similar thoughts and reactions and just life philosophies, which was really fun to read about. It's proof that you can really connect with people who aren't necessarily like you. I think it's Ben's combination of complete fear with the world and the small rays of optimism that I find so appealing. Anyway, Ben was a joy to follow through the book.
Then there's their sister Hannah who they barely know before they start living together again. They meet their brother-in-law for the first time the night they get picked up from the CVS they went to after getting kicked out. I loved Hannah and Thomas's role in the story. She's accepting and wonderful. They both try incredibly hard to make Ben feel comfortable and loved. It's so heartwarming and beautiful to see a family that forms in a different way. It also explores a sibling relationship on a far deeper level. Through therapy, they also address their lingering resentments and issues with each other despite the fact that they're immediately in a better place when Ben and Hannah come together again as adults. I loved this plot point and how it unfolded over the course of the book. Family relationships can't be fixed with bandaids. Even though Ben and Hannah understand where the other was coming from, voicing it in a mediated therapy session and openly addressing the past was so important. As much as we'd like to forget it and move on, you have to go back to what's broken if you're really invested in fixing relationships.
I also love Thomas's character. He's thrown into a weird place taking in his wife's sibling he's never met. But he never misses a beat. He immediately works to make Ben comfortable, gain their trust, and get them into school. Thomas also seems like a great teacher. Both Hannah and Thomas are very human, but they are also some of the best humans.
Ben never really had a community at their old school. They have a very standoffish approach to school as a self protecting thing. Nathan doesn't have the same reservations, though. Nathan is such a bright, caring, happy go lucky character that brings up the book. I love how understanding Nathan is, and he doesn't give up on Ben as they struggle with their mental health. Nathan's just so understanding and supportive. He's a great addition to Ben's growing support system.
Then there's Ben's online friendship with Mariam who's a nonbinary internet creator. Ben found their vlogs and immediately made a connection. Even though they haven't met, they offer a sense of support to Ben as they quietly struggle with their identity.
To finish Ben's backbone, there's Dr. Taylor, the therapist Hannah pushes them to see. While the relationship starts hesitant, they actually form a super valuable partnership to work through Ben's trauma and burgeoning anxiety issues. The super positive, yet honest, portrayal of therapy is so important to get out there.

Plot: 5 The plot is basically about Ben working to add all these people to their life and become more sure of themself. It's a very day by day slice of life story, which I love. It's a story of coming into yourself and gaining confidence in tiny, careful, safe steps. I appreciate that the book speaks validity of identity at every step, and that it reaffirms you don't have to be out to everyone for it to matter. Ben takes small steps and gets stronger with each one. It's really a joy to see. It's also further proof that you can find a support system and a family on your own. The bonds here are really beautiful.
The other side of the plot has to deal with Ben processing the instant loss of their family. They weren't treated the best at home. It was either abusive or borderline abusive (which was why Hannah disappeared when she turned 18), but Ben never expected to be thrown out.
This is a sort of a mini spoiler, but as their parents reach out to try to lure them home, the question becomes "How much do I have to love my parents?" Or the question of whether you have to forgive your parents because they gave birth to you. I think about this a lot, but it's particularly interesting in this context where Ben was deeply hurt by them, and their motives for wanting them back is so mirky. Ben struggles with whether they get to fully acknowledge how deeply their parent's hurt them. The issue is super complex, and Mason handles it with so much care.

Writing: 5 The writing is captivating. Mason is a truly gifted writer. This is the kind of contemporary YA that I just soak up. There's universes of emotional layering to pick apart as you read, but the plot line is so simple. It's just life. But life is endlessly fascinating. I Wish You All The Best captures that style at its best. The writing is so immersive. You will fall into the book and won't be able to come out till it's done. Incredibly beautiful and moving. So thoughtful.
I bought this book as a preorder a year ago, and I ended up not reading it until now. I've been trying to finish all my unread books on my shelf, and this one stuck out because of Pride Month. It was the perfect book for the mood I'm in right now. I guess that perfect book finding you at the perfect time thing is right.

Links of Interest:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Halsey's I Would Leave Me If I Could Poetry Review

  I Would Leave Me If I Could  by Halsey  I've started this review a couple times and scrapped all of them. I've written hundreds of reviews before, and this is the first time I have absolutely no clue how to review a book. It's not just because it's poetry. And it's not because I don't have thoughts on every single poem. I've read the book twice and scrubbed a million notes around her words and highlighted every poem on my second read through. I have so many favorites, and my heart feels like it's going to burst after finishing each poem. Halsey exceeded every expectation I had set to the high bar of her music. I almost feel like this book is too good for my review to remotely do it justice, so I don't even know where to begin.  This book is extremely vulnerable. Halsey has never held back on telling the ugly truth in her lyrics, but the poetry takes it so much farther. She has space to tell the entire story, fewer constraints than what will fit in

Blog Tour Stop: Like Home by Louisa Onomé

  Today, I want to shine the spotlight on Like Home by Louisa Onomé, which came out this week. That means you don't even have to wait to pick up a copy of your very own. Thank you to Turn the Pages Tours and Penguin/Delacorte Press for arranging this. So let's get into what this latest YA is all about! Synopsis: Fans of Netflix’s On My Block, In the Heights, and readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Ibi Zoboi will love this debut novel about a girl whose life is turned upside down after one local act of vandalism throws her relationships and even her neighborhood into turmoil. Chinelo, or Nelo as her best friend Kate calls her, is all about her neighborhood Ginger East. She loves its chill vibe, ride-or-die sense of community, and her memories of growing up there. Ginger East isn’t what it used to be, though. After a deadly incident at the local arcade, all her closest friends moved away, except for Kate. But as long as they have each other, Nelo’s good. Only, Kate’s parents’ corne

YA You Need To Read: April 2021

It's already April! School has been super super hectic, and I'm starting my old job as a bookseller again, so I haven't had much time for reading lately (ironic, I know), but I did want to talk about some books coming out in April that I can't wait to read (one day) that might inspire you to pick them up. I particularly can't wait for My Epic Spring Break Up! It's been on my list for a while now (I mean, look at that cover), but I also found some new books that hadn't been on my radar while browsing around the internet that I wanted to bring to your attention.  Let me know in the comments what April books you can't wait for!  Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Kahn  April 6th Zara has lived in Corpus Christi, Texas for a while. She's always dealt with the Islamophobia that's rampant in her high school, but when the star football player gets suspended, Zara becomes the target of a racist attack by the rest of the team that puts her and her family'

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi: YA Book Review

  Yolk  by Mary H.K. Choi Overview: Jayne is in fashion school in NYC. Well, she's enrolled. It's debatable how often she actually attends. June has a fancy job in finance, or that's what everyone thinks. But when June gets cancer, the estranged sisters are pulled together because June needs Jayne's identity to get treatment. By pretending to be her sister to get the life-saving procedure, June is forced to come clean and pull Jayne back into her orbit. Though their relationship stays rocky, they're suddenly glued together, forced to admit that their respective glamorous lives are actually filled with roaches and trauma and missteps. Overall: 5+++ This book made me happy cry (that's never happened while reading) and sad cry. Characters: 5 The book is told from Jayne's perspective in an extremely close first person. This book has plot. Things happen in the way that life happens, but it's mostly just characters getting split open and probed for all their w

Swimming Lessons By Lili Reinhart Poetry Review

  Swimming Lessons  by Lili Reinhart  Overall: 5 This is the first poetry book I've ever read in its entirety outside of Shel Silverstein, so I've checked off one of my reading goals for the year with this one. I've now read a graphic novel and a book of poetry. I've been anticipating Swimming Lessons  so long that I can't believe it's actually in my hands. I've been a fan of Lili since Riverdale, and I've continued to be a fan of hers even when the show got a bit too ridiculous for me to keep watching every week. I've been excited for the chance to get to see something completely created a controlled by Lili.  I'm not sure what I expected from Swimming Lessons . I think I had almost no idea what it would be like or the topics it would cover. After the first couple poems, I was completely hooked. In the intro, Lili prefaces the collection by noting that poetry has always given her solace in knowing other people felt the same specific emotions tha

They Both Die At The End

They Both Die At The End  by Adam Silvera (368 pages) Overview: Mateo and Rufus are both going to die at the end, but I'm guessing you got that from the title. The thing is, Mateo and Rufus don't know each other till the day they are going to die. After getting their calls from Death Cast, the new organization that lets everyone know that they are going to die with a call sometime after midnight. While trying to digest the news, they both turn their attention to the Last Friend app in search of finding another "decker" to spend their final day with. As the boys try to think of ways not to waste their final moments, they start to form a bond they never anticipated. Overall: 4 Characters: 4 I have to applaud Silvera for keeping his (mostly) duel prospective narrative voices so separate. Mateo and Rufus not only have different traits but totally different dialects. Mateo is Puerto Rican, quiet, and totally paranoid with a hyperawareness about safe. Both careful an

Writing Morally Gray Characters: A Guest Post by Laurie Devore, Author of A Better Bad Idea

Laurie Devore is stopping by the blog today to talk about her new book from Imprint, A Better Bad Idea , which is out now! This mystery/thriller/romance fusion is Laurie's third book, and it's a new twist on her usual contemporary YA stories. For this guest post, Laurie talks about crafting morally gray characters that your readers will still feel attached to and cheer on. Here's her best writing tips:  I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of what people will do when they’re pushed to their brink. While my new novel, A BETTER BAD IDEA, may seem like a departure in some ways from my previous novels, I actually think their DNA is quite similar. The stakes are higher, but as ever, this book is about girls making unimaginable choices because of their circumstances, whether self-inflicted or not.   I’m constantly thinking about what it means to write morally gray characters, and I think the main takeaway from me is that I’m just much more interested in what people do and w

Fear of Missing Out

Fear of Missing Out  by Kate McGovern  Overview: Astrid has a form of brain cancer called astrocytoma that causes a star shaped tumor to form near her brainstem. Though she was in remission, two years later, the cancer comes back, and Astrid becomes convinced that she won't beat the disease. She starts to pursue options that will allow her to have a life in the future, namely, cryopreservation. After essentially freezing her body, she hopes to wake up when there's a cure for her cancer so she can rejoin the world and see some of the milestones she fears missing. On the road trip to tour the Arizona facility, though, Astrid makes other realizations about her life and eventual death that alters how she sees her original plan. Overall: 4  Characters: 4 Astrid is relatable. She has a touch of dry, witty humor that makes her relatable. She loves her friends and family deeply, but she also has a conviction to follow what feels best for her. I appreciated how she always tried t

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon: Romance Review

  The Ex Talk  by Rachel Lynn Solomon Overview: Shay Goldstein was born to be on public radio. She used to pretend to host a radio show with her dad when she was a little kid, and she was crushed when he passed away. Now that she's getting ready for her first hosting gig, Shay feels like she's making him proud. Well... mostly proud. He always loved the truth that radio brought out and her new show is built on a little white lie- the idea that she used to date her co-host Dominic Yun. Though they bicker like exes, they never actually dated (though they might be currently?). As the popularity of the show takes off, all of Shay's dreams are coming true, and she might actually have found her dream guy too. And then everything falls apart. But it's a romance, so I think we all know how this ends. Overall: 5 Perfect for: enemies to lovers fans  Characters: 5 I love Shay and Dominic and their show producer, Ruthie. They're all just great. Shay is super relatable. She's

Perfect on Paper: YA Book Review

  Perfect on Paper  by Sophie Gonzales (2021 Release!) Preorder The Book on Bookshop! Before I get into the review, I'm just so excited to be writing a book review! I hadn't finished a book since the end of September :(. Hopefully that's over now. Anyway... Overview: Darcy is like Hannah Montana. Well, kinda. She's not a secret pop star, but she does have a hidden identity. She's the girl behind Locker 89, home of the best relationship advice in California. Or, at least, at her high school. People drop a letter and $10 in the locker, and Darcy collects them after school when her mom, a teacher there, stays late. This goes perfectly until Brougham catches her. While it's a minor disaster, he has a fascinating Australian accent and some traces of charm, and he ropes Darcy into giving him personal relationship coaching to win back his ex-girlfriend. But maybe he doesn't want his ex-girlfriend back after all? And maybe Darcy could get over her painful crush on h