Cynical twenty-three-year old August doesn’t believe in much. She doesn’t believe in psychics, or easily forged friendships, or finding the kind of love they make movies about. And she certainly doesn’t believe her ragtag band of new roommates, her night shifts at a 24-hour pancake diner, or her daily subway commute full of electrical outages are going to change that.
But then, there’s Jane. Beautiful, impossible Jane.
All hard edges with a soft smile and swoopy hair and saving August’s day when she needed it most. The person August looks forward to seeing on the train every day. The one who makes her forget about the cities she lived in that never seemed to fit, and her fear of what happens when she finally graduates, and even her cold-case obsessed mother who won’t quite let her go. And when August realizes her subway crush is impossible in more ways than one—namely, displaced in time from the 1970s—she thinks maybe it’s time to start believing.Summary from Goodeads
- Title: One Last Stop
- Author: Casey McQuiston
- Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
- Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance, Rom Com, LGBTQ
- Age Range: New Adult
- Trigger warnings: mentions of death (grandparent, other relative) in chapters 11 & 16, brief allusion to/mentions of fire + hate crime (Upstairs Lounge Fire) in ch 11, mentions of a car crash in chapter 16, mentions of addiction/alcoholism, police violence, homophobic violence and hate speech, childhood neglect, racism, arson, drinking, light drug use (weed), semi-public sex, exploration of depression and anxiety, memory loss and cognitive issues, familial estrangement, familial death, grief, missing persons, implied PTSD
- Rating: ★★★★★
If Red, White and Royal Blue is a major motion picture (which it hopefully will be — rights have been auctioned off), One Last Stop is an indie film. Someone on twitter said that if Red, White and Royal Blue was a Taylor Swift album, it’d be Lover, and One Last Stop would be folklore, and. It tugs on different heartstrings, and evokes different emotions. But the magic is still ever present in Casey McQuiston’s second book, and One Last Stop is brighter than ever.
Those of you who know me personally know how much Red, White & Royal Blue means to me, and so I was honestly a little anxious to read One Last Stop. After all, Red, White & Royal Blue was life-changing for me. I actually put off reading One Last Stop for a couple days after I received the ARC because I was so anxious. I kept getting texts from my friends, asking me if I’d read it yet and how it was — texts that I probably still haven’t responded to simply because I didn’t have the words for it then. I’ve now read One Last Stop twice, and am still struggling to come up with words to adequately describe McQuiston’s latest masterpiece.
When we first meet August, she’s a little lost in the way that we’re all lost in our twenties (a moment of silence for me, as I turn twenty-three next month). There’s so much talk about how the twenties are your best years, and maybe they are – I don’t know about that just yet, but I think the biggest part of your twenties is learning how you fit into the world and what makes you happiest, and August is on her journey to doing just that. She’s spent her entire life helping her mother out in a missing person investigation, and has moved away from Louisiana to learn how to be her own person – someone who isn’t just a detective. But time and distance don’t erase the years of training that she’s had; her curiosity or her tendency to pick up details, and when faced with the enigma that is Jane Su, August simply can’t stop herself from digging into her past and solving this mystery.
The best kind of plot twists are the ones that hit you with “Oh, of course. Why didn’t I see that earlier?”, the ones where you’ve been given little clues along the way that you simply didn’t realize, and One Last Stop is filled with those. It’s extra fun when you realize things just before the main character does, and even more validating when that main character is a bit of an expert at solving puzzles like these.
From the dedication, which reads For queer communities past, present, and future, I already knew One Last Stop would hold a special place in my heart. As with Red, White & Royal Blue, One Last Stop is filled with queer history easter eggs, only this time, the easter eggs are in the form of Jane Su. I could probably write an entire essay about Jane Su, who might simply be one of my favorite love interests of all time. As an immigrant from Hong Kong, I knew I’d feel connected to Jane, but I didn’t know just how much she’d mean to me. There were little bits of pieces of Jane that made me stop and go “Oh! We do that in my family too!”, or “That’s a big thing where I’m from!”. I loved that Jane was so much more than her queerness or her Chinese-ness, and that her story wasn’t only focused on her race or her sexuality. Jane is strong and resilient, mysterious and outspoken and hopeful and passionate about the things and the people she cares about. She’s a fighter. Her identities provide context for who she is, and her past, but they aren’t the sum of her, and that in itself was so refreshing to read. I’ve seen bits of Jane in the people I know, people I’ve fallen in love with, so it’s no surprise that I fell a little in love with Jane myself, just as August fell for Jane (Side note, I want a whole book on Jane’s past, and all of her past loves).
August and Jane’s relationship developing alongside the investigation was a nice parallel. The two complimented each other really nicely, as friends, and then even more so once they got together. There was so much pining and yearning on both ends that I had to put the book down a couple times and just ask “When are they going to get together?”. August and Jane’s relationship really felt like one out of a classic 90’s rom-com, and I could talk about them forever, but I’m not sure how to without spoiling One Last Stop.
The phrase “ragtag gang of ragamuffins” (props to you if you catch the musical reference here) keeps popping into my head as a way to describe the ensemble cast of characters in One Last Stop. One Last Stop is an ode to the families you create; the people who you weren’t sure you’d let into your life and then somehow they pushed their way in and took up a permanent space in your hearts, the ones who see you for who you are, at your very worst and best, the ones who support you no matter how crazy or weird your ideas are. August’s friends, roommates, even the patrons at Pancake Billy’s, were so vibrant and three-dimensional. They’re eccentric and quirky and truly flawed, and characters that I want to know so much more about.
One of my favorite things about One Last Stop was just how relatable it is. Sure, I haven’t met the hot time-traveling lesbian of my dreams on a subway yet, but I do know what it’s like to be in your 20s, and to not know what you’re doing, or who you are outside of school; who you are outside of the place you grew up in, and your family. And I know all about being a completely bisexual hot mess. McQuiston writes both flawlessly, in a way that’s almost a little scary and reminiscent of my own journals. But what I loved most of all was how it was a love letter in itself. A love letter to the queer community, to family, to belonging, to cities that we leave bits and pieces of ourselves in, to being in your 20s and not knowing what’s going on, and to rom coms in general. It is a time, a place, a person, and a home, all in one book.
The biggest thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a physical ARC in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Casey McQuiston is a New York Times bestselling author of romantic comedies and a pie enthusiast. She writes stories about smart people with bad manners falling in love. Born and raised in southern Louisiana, she now lives in New York City with her poodle mix/personal assistant, Pepper.
If you’re just as excited about One Last Stop as I am, you can also check out some of the edits for it I’ve been making!