I Wish You All the Best

Stories hold a lot of power. Stories tend to be a form of escape for so many people; but just as often, they serve as a way for people to see their own experiences reflected by authors and writers who have gone through the same thing. People who offer comfort to readers who are confused or hurting or scared. I struggled for a long time. Because rarely were there books I could turn to. 

 

My mother instilled a love of reading in me from an early age. Of course, I was so young that I really don’t remember any firsts, or favorite books from back then. What I do remember are the weekly trips to the library, leaving with a laundry basket filled with books. Finding random books in classrooms at school, begging my parents to buy just one more book for me to read. Reading has been with me, since I was a child, it’s always been a piece of who I was, even in the years when I wasn’t totally in love with it.
 

Reading and I came to a rocky point in our relationship when I reached middle school. I still read, and there were definitely series I gravitated towards. Of course, vampires were all the rage back then. I remember being addicted to the Darren Shan series, and waiting months for my library-hold of the first Twilight book to come in. But there came a point when things started to get complicated. It’s when I started to think about boys in the way I was expected to think about girls.
 

There were no stories that showed me that was a normal way to be. I repressed such a big part of who I am, to the point of denial about myself, and the truths I presented to the world. It wasn’t really until I was already an adult that I found books like Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Two Boys Kissing, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Books that showed me that I’m normal, that the feelings I have for boys aren’t strange or wrong. Even as I grew older, and my own gender identity evolved though, I was desperate for books that didn’t really exist. I found comfort in reading If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo and Janet Mock’s autobiography Redefining Realness that I was showed that trans characters and people can survive hardship and struggles and come out the other side stronger than before. It was this truth, this power, that I’d never been shown before. So many trans narratives focus on the pain of being trans, often times from the point of view of a cisgender author, someone who doesn’t, or won’t understand all the nuances and struggles of being trans. Or, in the worst cases, doesn’t understand that their story holds power, and that filling shelves with stories of trans characters being assaulted or murdered, it hurts.
 

Stories hold a lot of power. Stories tend to be a form of escape for so many people; but just as often, they serve as a way for people to see their own experiences reflected by authors and writers who have gone through the same thing. People who offer comfort to readers who are confused or hurting or scared. I struggled for a long time. Because rarely were there books I could turn to. Books, my main source of comfort and knowledge of the world, couldn’t be there for me. I had to take whatever I could find. And while there were the gems, books that did embrace me, and make me feel like I wasn’t alone. I still had to figure out so many things for myself. There were no books out there that told me what non-binary is, or what it feels like; that what I still feel to this day is a totally normal thing.


When I was writing my debut novel I Wish You All the Best, I already knew the sort of power a story like this had the potential to hold. I used that as a starting off point. I wanted my own book to be for other kids, what I craved in literature when I was a young reader. I wanted to use my words, my own power, to help show readers that they aren’t alone. Their emotions, their feelings, the complications that come with all of that. It’s normal, it’s expected. That’s the power of a story. Books so often, are a security for so many readers. To show the hardships of reality, but to also bring a hopefulness to them. A promise that things won’t always be that way, to bring comfort to the people who need it. To show readers that they aren’t alone, that they aren’t the only ones going through things. I believe that is the power of story: Companionship.


The knowledge that at least one other person has gone through the same things you have. Knowing that you aren’t the only person in the world who has struggled with your emotions, your feelings. It’s something so important to younger readers, people who are trying their best to figure things out when it feels like all the puzzle pieces aren’t there. Knowing that you aren’t alone, it can be a life-saving thing for so many people.


Therein lies the true power of story. Comfort, security, knowledge. Stories hold this power, this ability. The ability to make you feel seen, heard, listened to. Stories are there for you in times where other things, other people, might’ve failed you. And that, I believe, is the true power of a story.


Because they tell you that you aren’t alone.

 

Mason Deaver is a non-binary author and librarian from a small town in North Carolina where the word "y'all" is used in abundance. When they aren't writing or working, they're typically found in their kitchen baking something that's bad for them or out in their garden complaining about the toad that likes to dig holes around their hydrangeas. I Wish You All the Best is their debut novel. You can find them online at masondeaverwrites.com.

 


This article is part of the Scholastic Power of Story series. Scholastic’s Power of Story highlights diverse books for all readers. Find out more and download the catalog at Scholastic.com/PowerofStory. Visit School Library Journal to discover new Power of Story articles from guest authors, including Lamar Giles, Andrea Davis Pinkney, book giveaways and more.

 

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