I Wish You All the Best
by Deaver, Mason

Thrown out of their parents' home and moving in with their estranged sister after coming out as nonbinary, Ben De Backer struggles to endure an anxiety disorder and the last half of senior year while bonding with a charismatic new friend.

Mason Deaver is a non-binary author and librarian from a small town in North Carolina where the word "y'all" is used in abundance. When they aren't writing or working, they're typically found in their kitchen baking something that's bad for them or out in their garden complaining about the toad that likes to dig holes around their hydrangeas. I Wish You All the Best is their debut novel. You can find them online at masondeaverwrites.com.

When 18-year-old Ben comes out as nonbinary, their parents heartlessly throw them out of the house. With nowhere else to go, Ben calls their older sister, Hannah, whom they haven't seen in 10 years, and she mercifully agrees to give them a new home. Hannah's husband, Thomas, is a teacher and arranges for Ben to enroll at his school, where Ben quickly meets Nathan, who has been assigned to help orient them. Extroverted, ebullient, and always smiling, Nathan is a bit overwhelming at first, but gradually Ben accepts Nathan's overtures of friendship-and is it possible that their friendship might blossom into something more deeply felt? First, however, Ben must find the courage to come out to Nathan. The question is, can they? Deaver's first novel deals with a complexity of serious issues that are, generally, well handled. Yes, Ben can sometimes be annoyingly self-pitying but gradually grows out of that habit, while Nathan remains a wonderfully sympathetic character throughout. Withal, Deaver's novel is a welcome addition to the growing body of LGBTQ literature. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Deaver's debut delivers an honest coming-of-age and coming-out story about 18-year-old queer, nonbinary Ben De Backer. The novel centers on conflicts within a North Carolina family that drive the narrative after Ben comes out to their parents and is kicked out of the house. Welcomed by their older sister, Hannah, who they haven't spoken to in more than a decade, and her husband, Thomas, they begin a new life, enter therapy, and begin to find peace as they finish their senior year. Ben finds comfort in art classes, which become a safe haven as the art teacher takes them under her wing. Ben's loneliness abates thanks to budding friendships, but when their connection with another student, Nathan, hints at something more, Ben struggles to find the confidence to risk sharing their truth again. Dealing with new friendships, family rejection, first love, anxiety, and personal growth, this novel is grounded in familiar YA terrain while exploring themes of gender identity. Deaver's tr eatment of Ben's nonbinary identity creates a realistic portrayal of their journey toward self-acceptance. Ben and their family are white, Nathan is brown-skinned (ethnicity unspecified), and a few secondary characters are ethnically diverse, including a nonbinary character who is a Muslim immigrant and hijabi. Holds appeal for readers of all genders and sexualities through sympathetic characters and a hopeful narrative of empowerment. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

"I . . ." I can do this. Just keep breathing.There's that tightness in my stomach, like something is just twisting and twisting and it won't let go until the moment is over. And everything will unravel, and I'll feel free."I wanted to tell you two something."Dad looks at me now.This is it.It's kinda funny actually; the script I wrote for myself, the one I typed in Word so I'd cover everything I wanted to, it's just totally gone from my memory now. Like someone zapped it all away.Maybe that's for the best; maybe this is how I'll be the most honest with them.If it just comes from me and not some rehearsed version of myself, maybe that will help; maybe that'll be better?I tell them. Slowly.At first, relief floods over me. I think I can actually feel myself relax.I just wish that feeling could've lasted longer.

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