In an emotionally complex story about finding acceptance and redefining family, 18-year-old Ben is rejected by their parents when they come out as nonbinary. They’re taken in by their older sister, Hannah, who was also driven out by their conservative and judgmental parents 10 years earlier. Together they have to learn how to advance from estranged siblings to a true, caring family while Ben works to complete senior year at a new high school. And as Ben cultivates an art practice and receives the love and support of rediscovered family and of new friends, including handsome neighbor Nathan, they begin to come to terms with their trauma. Debut author Deaver portrays Ben’s reaction to the difficult situation, including panic attacks and anxiety, with care and empathy, and readers will be filled with joy and hope as Ben begins to grow toward self-acceptance. Ben’s voice shines through with courage and vulnerability as they learn, slowly, to feel valued and deserving of respect. A powerful illustration of the ways that compassion and love can overcome intolerance. Ages 14–up. Agent: Lauren Abramo, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (May)
"Heartfelt, romantic, and quietly groundbreaking. This book will save lives." Becky Albertalli, New York Times bestselling author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda"Tender and bursting with humanity, I Wish You All the Best tells a heartwarming queer love story without compromise." Meredith Russo, Stonewall Award-winning author of If I Was Your Girl"A beacon of hope in a broken world. We all need this book." Nic Stone, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin"Emotional and heartfelt... This is the sort of novel that goes beyond being important; it has the potential to save and change lives." Kheryn Callender, Stonewall Award-winning author of Hurricane Child and This is Kind of an Epic Love Story"I Wish You All the Best reminds us that, when we open up to love, we have the capacity to become our most authentic selves." Adib Khorram, Morris and APALA Award-winning author of Darius the Great is Not Okay"A truly unique and beautiful debut." Adi Alsaid, author of Let's Get Lost"Profoundly poignant and often swoon-worthy... a stunning gift to the world." Jay Coles, author of Tyler Johnson Was Here"An important and inspiring novel about identity, acceptance, friendship, familial relationships, and the people who become your family." Sabina Khan, author of The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali"A soft, sweet, and incredibly important story about a nonbinary teen finding their voice. This book is going to be so important to so many people." Alice Oseman, author of Radio Silence and Heartstopper"A welcome addition to the growing body of LGBTQIAP+ literature." Booklist"An honest coming-of-age and coming-out story... Deaver's treatment of Ben's nonbinary identity creates a realistic portrayal of their journey toward self-acceptance... through sympathetic characters and a hopeful narrative of empowerment." Kirkus Reviews"A powerful illustration of the ways that compassion and love can overcome intolerance." Publishers Weekly"Deaver shows us that love, like gender, is fluid and nonbinary." NPR
Gr 8 Up—A nonbinary teen is forced out of their house and finds love while starting over. Ben didn't expect their parents to be thrilled when they came out as nonbinary, but neither did they expect to be immediately kicked out of their home. They move in with their older sister whom they have not seen in a decade, begin attending a new school for the last semester of senior year, and choose not to come out to their teachers or classmates. Ben's plan to keep a low profile backfires when they are befriended by Nathan, a fellow student who may like them as more than just a friend. Written by an author who is nonbinary, this book stands out among current young adult offerings for its depiction of a nonbinary protagonist. Ben's anxiety after being kicked out of their parents' house will resonate with readers who have suffered trauma, as will their struggle in both loving their parents while also not trusting them after their reaction. The measured pace and conversational style of this book work well with its focus on Ben and their healing and growth during their final semester of high school. The romance that develops between Ben and Nathan is sweet, and readers will be rooting for the couple to have their happily ever after. Give to fans of Bill Konigsberg's The Music of What Happens or Adib Khorram's Darius the Great Is Not Okay. VERDICT A first purchase for most libraries.—Jenni Frencham, Indiana University, Bloomington
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 treatment 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)