New York Times bestselling author of Red, White & Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston, presents her reader with a classic problem in One Last Stop (St. Martin’s Press): How to properly savor such a well-written and compelling story, instead of voraciously devouring it. Fair warning, this novel will have you meeting the wee hours of the morning, resulting in stronger caffeine cravings the next day. One Last Stop had me eking out every moment of my lunch break I could, trying to keep one foot on the Q with August and Jane and the other under my desk as email after email pinged, reminding me my bosses weren’t paying me to fall in love with every character McQuiston introduced.
The story begins as August, a jaded wanderer, lands in New York and responds to an ad about a room in Flatbush — “MUST BE QUEER & TRANS FRIENDLY. MUST NOT BE AFRAID OF FIRE OR DOGS. NO LIBRAS.” August, thankfully a Virgo, quickly becomes acquainted with the friend group we all long for in our hearts and moves her meager belongings into the open room. Her new roommates then take her to Pancake Billy’s House of Pancakes where she settles into the city further, getting a job serving at the local staple.
COFFEE-STAINED MEET CUTE AND A TEMPORAL BLIP
In the midst of managing her new life of slinging pancakes and going to class to finish her degree, August meets her: Jane Su. Jane is enigmatic, sexy and always happens to be on the Q subway when August hops on. August is struck by her from the moment they meet — August coffee-stained and Jane kindly offering her scarf to help cover the spill. Jane’s smile makes you feel like you are in on some private joke. Even when she’s laughing at you, you feel the urge to laugh along.
August and Jane have run-in after run-in on the Q, but August can’t bring herself to make her move. How do you gauge the interest of someone who can charm anyone, like Jane can? Finally, August musters the courage to shoot her shot and asks Jane to drinks. Jane nervously declines, but not out of disinterest — Jane physically can’t leave the Q.
With this realization, August puts the investigatory skills she learned from her mother to work, trying to figure out how Jane got stuck on the subway in the ‘70s and how they can correct this temporal blip. August rides the line every free moment she can, trying to jog Jane’s memory until they can learn how she ended up unchanged for the last 45 years. Even once they learn the “how” of it all, can they put Jane back where she fell out of time? Greater than all of this, how do you come to grips with trying to right a universal wrong that could potentially force you to lose such a great love?
IT’S EVERYTHING A MODERN ROM-COM SHOULD BE
One Last Stop is what the modern rom-com should be: an ode to the gratitude we all have for the love we experience, regardless of the consequences. It’s a reminder that “sometimes you just have to feel it because it deserves to be felt.” August found more than enough in her life to run from. The love she found for her friends, the city, and Jane finally gave her something to run toward.
McQuiston adds to this ideal modern rom-com with a refreshing and much-needed diversion from the romance genre standard: cis-het woman falls for cis-het man and they face some contrived hardship that their love overcomes. McQuiston presents love across the spectrum of sexuality and gender in One Last Stop and, in turn, creates a better, well-rounded presentation of love itself. There is not a single moment in this novel that does not feel genuine and human.
If you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time for me to start my reread of this book. I’m not quite ready to step off the Q yet.
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