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.
Wow. I wish I could find the words to give this book the review it deserves, but I feel like I will never be able to. Becky Albertalli sums it up so well as quietly groundbreaking, and this is the perfect way to describe this novel. It will change people’s lives. It will rock people’s worlds. It will make you laugh and cry, but most importantly, it will educate.
At the start of this book, Ben comes out as non-binary to their parents, which they don’t react well to and therefore kick them out of the house. They then move in with their sister, who they haven’t spoken to in around 10 years. The thing that hit me the most about this book is that there is really nothing else out there quite like it. I’ve never felt so informed about what non-binary people have to go through just to be who they are. It honestly broke my heart over and over again, but also filled me with hope to see Ben surrounded by the people who love them the most.
“Whatever happens”—his grip tightens a little—“I wish you all the best, Benjamin De Backer.”
The characters in this book are just amazing. Ben went through so much and were treated so unfairly by their parents, and to see them slowly open up was just such a beautiful story to witness. Ben’s sister is such a great character, strong willed and always wanting what is best for Ben. Her husband, Thomas is also so loving and warm. Ben’s friends at school were such a great group and overall Ben was surrounded by such a diverse group of people. I love how good family relationships were reinforced among Ben’s friends families and their relationship with their sister and brother in law. It really balanced out the bad relationship Ben had with their parents and warmed my heart.
I also can’t write this review without mentioning how positive Ben’s relationship with their therapist was. She was such an amazing character and I love the conversations she had with Ben about informed consent, medication, and other important aspects of having therapy. Nothing was shied away in this book and everything was discussed.
He says it with a smile. “You deserve it.”
I wish I could tell you how much this book meant to me because I can really see how many lives it will change. It gave me goosebumps, made me cry, made me laugh, warmed my heart and broke it so many times. Again, I am going to leave you with the quote from Becky Albertalli, because she sums it up better than I ever could:
“Heartfelt, romantic and quietly groundbreaking. This book will save lives.”
5 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽