Exploring Gender Identity and Acceptance in “I Wish You All the Best” by Mason Deaver

I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver - book cover

Mason Deaver’s novel “I Wish You All the Best” dives into complex issues within the LGBTQIA+ community. The story begins with Ben coming out to their parents as nonbinary and being kicked out of their house, to then living with their sister and exploring their queer identity in an accepting environment. Analyzing the themes of gender identity, acceptance, and self-discovery in the novel, Deaver helps the audience to better understand a variety of experiences LGBTQIA+ people face depending on different circumstances.

The summary blurb of Deaver’s book states, “When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.

But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

At turns heartbreaking and joyous, I Wish You All the Best is both a celebration of life, friendship, and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity” (Goodreads).

As mentioned before, Ben De Backer is nonbinary, but hasn’t told anyone this until they came out to their parents. They assumed their parents would never kick them out of the house, but they were deeply let down in the lack of support their parents showed towards them.

Ben struggles with anxiety, and with the whole coming out process being hard enough, they also have this added level of fear and worry. While they didn’t find support in their parents, their sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, welcomed them with open arms. Hannah had already left the family years ago due to the expectations of her parents, but Ben had been stuck living under their parent’s control over these past few years.




Ben goes through alot of mental health issues as they are re-living the trauma of their sister ditching them, alongside the memories of their parents kicking them out and the anxiety of having to come out to other people in the future. This journey is guided by Ben’s new therapist whom helps them unpack all their past trauma and current mental health issues, eventually leading Ben into self-acceptance.

While Ben is facing alot of past trauma throughout this novel, they also have gained a great support system. First, we see Ben and their sister being closer than they ever were, as Hannah has stepped in to help them through this awful experience. Second, we see Nathan helping Ben cope with their anxiety and also have a safe space to explore their sexuality. Particularly with Ben and Nathan’s relationship, the reader is also exposed to great representation of healthy and supportive relationships within the LGBTQIA+ community. Having these supportive relationships really help Ben’s journey of self-discovery and acceptance, as they have people who are cheering them on.




“I Wish You All the Best” adeptly portrays the nuances of gender identity and LGBTQIA+ themes, offering an authentic and insightful perspective. While some characters or experiences may feel stereotypical or underdeveloped, the novel’s impact remains profound, resonating with contemporary societal challenges and the importance of empathy and inclusivity. Its relevance in today’s world serves as a powerful reminder of the ongoing journey towards acceptance and understanding for gender nonconforming individuals.

In conclusion, “I Wish You All the Best” poignantly explores themes of gender identity, LGBTQIA+ representation, and the quest for self-acceptance amidst contemporary societal challenges. While I previously mentioned the underdeveloped characters/experiences within Deaver’s novel, I think that these gaps in the story will fill out very nicely in the movie adaptation. I truly cannot wait to see how Tommy Dorfman depicts these characters and experiences in her film adaptation of “I Wish You All the Best.”

For more information about the film adaptation, check out IWYATB on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/iwyatbmovie/



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.