My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thank you, Scholastic, for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
There are no fireworks. Time doesn’t stop. And I don’t mind; I don’t think he does either. Because this has been in the making for so long.
I Wish You All the Best is one of the most informative books that I’ve read this year. If you’re sick of the unrealistic romance in YA contemporary, this one won’t disappoint you. I’m not sure if it’s a genre thing, but I have a hypothesis that queer books rarely have instalove. Hahaha.
In contrast to its cute cover, IWYATB contains heavy themes. It particularly focuses on the complexities of coming out. Ben, the main character, is suddenly on the street after telling their parents that they’re non-binary. Confused and heartbroken, they move in with Eryn, their sister who ran away from home many years ago. When Ben transfers to a new school in hopes of a fresh start, a lively dude named Nathan starts to break down their carefully constructed walls. Soon, Ben’s feelings become complicated, and they have to decide whether or not to risk their friendship.
To be honest, before I read this novel, I didn’t know the definition of “non-binary.” Now, I understand that people who embrace this label are like advocates of political correctness in that they prefer gender-neutral pronouns such as “they” and “them.” Non-binary individuals like Ben might look masculine or feminine, but they don’t necessarily identify themselves as such. With that in mind, I had to summarize this insightful book using plural pronouns even though my love for grammar told me not to do so. If you want to learn more about the implications of being non-binary, I urge you to do a bit of research.
Moving forward, Ben was generally a likable protagonist. Ben was a talented painter as well as a math nerd. In light of their artistic intelligence, I was a little surprised that they disliked English and all its writing assignments. At least their paintings could convey a thousand words and more. Ben’s most appealing trait was their dry humor. They barely made a joke, so when they did, I couldn’t help but smile. I also connected with Ben since we had a mutual love for introspection.
As for Nathan, his loud and very outgoing personality was quite annoying at first. In reality, extroverts like him can easily drain the energy of introverts like Ben. Still, Nathan’s persistent efforts to get to know Ben turned out to be a blessing. If it weren’t for Nathan, Ben would be nearly friendless at school. Moreover, since Nathan was depicted as a person of color, I should give points for racial diversity. I won’t say anything about his orientation because it’s part of the plot twist; you shouldn’t assume that it’s inevitable for Ben and Nathan to end up happily together.
My only problem with this book was Ben’s attitude toward their parents. I understood the reason for their resentment. Still, how could Ben conveniently forget who had given birth to them? Isn’t blood thicker than water? Just thinking about Ben’s pessimism saddens me. In a perfect world, they wouldn’t have to be so bitter. To be fair, Nathan’s parents had a completely different view of gender. They were very supportive, and they weren’t even shocked during Nathan’s big reveal.
Overall, I Wish You All the Best is worth the hype. The author and I might have different beliefs regarding gender, but I can appreciate their work for what it is: a moving story of love, friendship, and self-discovery.