So I read this book, I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver. I haven’t read a YA book in a while (and by while I mean a few months). This one is definitely stereotypical easy read about basic high school life with an uncomplicated storyline. What sets it apart, though, is that the main character is nonbinary.
I feel like I do a really good job at picking books based on cover and/or author name. I don’t even read the synopsis anymore and I try to only look at ratings rather than reviews. I want to come in with zero expectations, except for what I get face value.
From the cover, I could tell it was going to be a YA book, potentially about a gay teen couple because there were what seemed like two boys on the cover. My interest was waning almost immediately in the first few “pages” (in quotes since it was an audiobook) until the main character came out as nonbinary to their parents. Then I was hooked.
I was hooked not in a way that made me feel like this was one of the greatest pieces of literary art I have ever consumed, but I am always interested in learning about a different perspective since I had never read a book by or about a nonbinary person.
I have read other LGBTQ books before (actually, I don’t think I have read a book centered around a trans character. Not yet anyway!). Those were different. I didn’t read them really to gain perspective into lives I don’t know much about. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t know much about living as a queer person, because I am a cis, straight-passing person. I mean, I love seeing the point of view of people who are different from me (and who aren’t cis-het white people). I just read those books as if the characters are everyday people living life and falling in love. I just don’t exoticize them, like they are freakshows on display.
I don’t think I articulated those thoughts very well.
This book seems different than other LGBTQ (will the acronym expand to include NB for nonbinary? Or GNC for gender nonconforming? There are just too many identities to try to encapsulate in an acronym without leaving people out) books I’ve read because I just haven’t met anyone nonbinary. And I don’t want it to seem like I’m picking now to exoticize nonbinary folks. I just think this is the first time I get to examine my privilege not only as a cis person, but one who identifies within the binary.
With my trans friends, it’s been easy. I just switch their pronouns. Reading (i.e. listening) this book, I see even more struggles other than getting people to switch pronouns to they, them. Ben, the main character, talks about dressing rooms, clothes, and people gendering them in other ways. I didn’t realize how freaking gendered our language is!
I use a lot of gendered language in my daily life. I never mean it to address a certain gender. I say “guys” and call everyone the B word. In my mind, these are gender neutral terms because I am using it to address everyone. After reading this book, I know that it’s not about me knowing my intent; it’s about how people interpret it (I should know this from all the frustration I experience with microaggressions).
I’ll just stick to saying y’all as I have started to do. I’m from the south, so it works.
Part of me is kinda glad this book has an uncomplicated plot. This kid shouldn’t have to deal with homelessness or drugs or being beaten to have a hard time. Nonbinary kids are just kids and they deserve the mundane too.
One day hopefully, this book will become so boring because being nonbinary isn’t a big deal and won’t be a major plot point!