I remember when I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST first came out, there was a lot of hype surrounding it because Deaver had been so open about their publishing journey (I think they were originally calling this book #EnbyLovestory) and their excitement about getting the book deal was very much a community event. I remember being really excited for them too and was so happy when I finally got my hands on a copy. I've actually tried two other times to start this book and both times, I ended up setting it down. This time, I told myself I was going to stick with it, but I'm just not feeling I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST.
I actually like THE GHOSTS WE KEEP, which is weird, because in my review I was like, "Ben is the better protagonist." Which is true. Liam was definitely harsh and unlikable but Ben isn't. The problem is that Ben is also just sort of there. As a narrator, they felt very bland to me. Which was strange because the plot is very emotional. The book literally starts with them getting kicked out of their house after coming out, which is awful and incredibly triggering but also-- sadly-- something that still happens not irregularly in places and homes that are hostile to the LGBT+.
Ben goes to live with their sister, Hannah, who was also kicked out, and her husband, Thomas. They are such a sweet couple and I liked how hard they worked to make a place for Ben, setting them up in their home, trying to find creative ways to use the right pronouns even when they were in places that they weren't out (my heart melted with Thomas just kept referring to them as Ben so as not to misgender), and even sending them to a specialty therapist who worked with LGBT+ people. But Ben didn't seem to care that much about their sister, and I was never sure if that standoffishness came from a point of being afraid to open up (my guess), or just a shallow narrator who wasn't very fleshed out.
I can appreciate what this book represents to the LGBT+ canon since it is a book about a nonbinary character, authored by a nonbinary author, and it has some wonderful points about what it means to be nonbinary, as well as "out," but I do think that the author's follow-up was a better book. Even though the narrator was unlikable, they made me feel things and I had a connection with them. I didn't really feel that with this book.
2 out of 5 stars