This book centers on a non-binary person, and a lot of the book felt…instructional. But in a good way. It seemed to speak directly to me: this is how you handle a situation like this. This is how you respond when a person says this to you. This is what to do to be an ally. I don’t know how it would come across to someone who is non-binary, but as a cisgender woman who wants to be supportive in any way possible, I found a lot of the book to be educational and helpful. In addition to that, it contains a really lovely story about person finding their own way in the world.
“I’ve been mentally preparing myself to come out all over again, but I’ve been doing that for a while now. That was one of the things I realized early. If you’re queer, your life has the potential to become one long coming-out moment. If I ever want to be called the right pronouns, I’ll have to correct people and put myself out there first and who knows what could happen.”
When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as non-binary, they weren’t sure what to expect — but getting kicked out of the house was definitely not it. With nowhere else to turn, they call their older sister (estranged from their family for 10 years) and try to start life fresh as a high school in her city. At the school, Ben meets a nosy, talkative kid named Nathan, who insists on befriending them. Ben finds it hard to be Nathan’s friend without being out to him — but can’t quite shake him either.
I Wish You All the Best is told from Ben’s first person perspective, so you don’t hear their preferred pronouns very frequently. But Ben does have an online friend named Maryam (I think — I listened to the audio version and couldn’t quite figure out if the name was Maryam or Mary Ann or something else) who also prefers they/them pronouns. I will admit it took me a little bit to mentally adjust when the author referred to Maryam as “they” — and then I got used to it. You hear a lot of complaints online about using they/them pronouns and how confusing it is, and maybe it is a little — but then you just adjust. And if that little thing makes someone else feel more comfortable in their own identity, then suck it up and do it.
The book brushes on other topics as well — consent to touch someone is brought up a couple times. I really liked this line: “My first instinct is to wrap Maryam in a hug… but I don’t remember if that’s a wrong for them so I keep my arms at my side and kind of awkwardly shuffle my feet. Better safe than sorry.” Again, if you can do (or not do) one small thing to make someone else more comfortable, why not do it?