Like Shotgunning Summer Sunshine: One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

Posted 1st June 2021 by Sia in Queer Lit, Reviews / 0 Comments

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
Genres: Queer Protagonists
Representation: Bisexual MC, lesbian Asian-American love interest, F/F or wlw, trans secondary character, Black secondary character, Jewish secondary character, secondary M/M or mlm, queer cast
Published on: 1st June 2021
Goodreads
five-stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of Red, White & Royal Blue comes a new romantic comedy that will stop readers in their tracks...

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.

But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.

Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop is a magical, sexy, big-hearted romance where the impossible becomes possible as August does everything in her power to save the girl lost in time.

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Highlights

~pancakes
~subways are Romantic now
~psychic roommate
~drag queens!!!
~every woman should own a pocketknife
~assembling a bed = sexy AF

I want to write love letters to this book. I want to write it terrible poetry. I want to buy a copy for every one of my friends and shove it in their faces. Hells yes, this is the book to kick off Pride! There cannot possibly be a better way to start Pride Month than with One Last Stop!

Where am I supposed to even start with the gazillion reasons that you need to read this book???

If you’ve already read Red, White, and Royal Blue, then you don’t need me to tell you that this is awesome – it’s another Casey McQuiston novel, of course it’s awesome – but if you haven’t. Well.

What if I tell you that I got sucked into the worst depression spiral I’ve had in months – and One Last Stop was still able to make me laugh? Gave me such a shot of serotonin, in fact, that I was back to my normal self – better than my normal self – after just two chapters?

I mean. Don’t stop taking your meds, folx. But One Last Stop is pure serotonin in book form.

August is an absolute delight of a protagonist, in huge part because she is not, in fact, the most delightful person. She’s not sweet and nice and friendly (at least at first glance); she’s awkward and suspicious and finds other people confusing at best, and she always carries a pocket-knife, and she Makes Plans for everything because she doesn’t know how to deal if she doesn’t. Before I even made it to chapter two, I adored her.

August, a suburban girl with a swimming pool of student loan debt and the social skills of a Pringles can

It doesn’t hurt that McQuiston has you cracking up at least once per page; I swear I almost broke my ereader with all the highlights of bits I had to read out loud to the hubby – and then repeat them because I was giggling too hard for him to make out what I was saying. SOCIAL SKILLS OF A PRINGLES CAN. Gods, it’s equal parts hysterical and relatable.

No worries August; there’s a reason everyone loves Pringles.

One Last Stop opens with August arriving in New York (from where, we do not yet know) and finding herself a room. With New York prices, that means a roommate. In fact, it means several roommates, all of whom seem utterly bizarre in very human ways; the kind of weird that immediately makes a character feel like a real person, because surely no one can make this up. One’s psychic, one’s an artist, one is… Wes.

Her mental field guide to making friends is a two-page pamphlet that just says: DON’T

It’s fine, everything’s FIIIIIIIIIIINE.

Anyway. She gets a job and her classes start and then…the subway.

The hottest girl August has ever seen just took one look at her and said, “Yikes.”

The subway – the Q – is where she meets Jane. Who is gorgeous, and ridiculously cool, and open-handedly kind.

And is stuck in some kind of subway-related time-slip. She’s supposed to be in the 1970s, and she’s…not.

It’s a thing. And it’s not fine.

One of the (many) things that surprised and delighted me was how quickly One Last Stop revealed its supernatural elements; yes, Jane’s situation is described in the blurb, so it’s not a surprise, but I thought it would take longer for August to figure it out.

“Wait. Holy shit. She is always wearing the exact same thing.”

“You only just noticed she has one outfit?”

“I don’t know! It’s ripped jeans and a leather jacket! Every lesbian I’ve ever met has that outfit!”

But that was me underestimating her. She figures it out, and then…then she’s gonna fix it. Solve it. Help Jane.

It really has nothing to do with Jane being breathtakingly wonderful. August would help her regardless.

…But the being breathtakingly wonderful doesn’t hurt. Except for how it does, because August is falling for her and that doesn’t complicate things at all.

Jane laughs, which is rocketing straight up August’s list of favorite sounds in the universe. She’s gonna trap it in a shell like a sea witch. It’s fine.

I don’t often get super-invested in romantic arcs. In a lot of Fantasy, it’s an afterthought or an extra, not usually integral to the overall story; here, of course, the romance is the story, and the fantastical elements are…well, they’re super important, but they’re also not the point. The point is the love story, and I mean, there shouldn’t be so much anticipation building and building throughout the book when you know they’re going to get together. Because of course they are! But McQuiston did it beautifully in Red, White, & Royal Blue and has done it once again: presented a romance I cannot help but fall for.

I am in love with August and Jane’s love. There, I said it. AND I REGRET NOTHING!

August is an MC who I think almost everyone can identify with; and those who don’t see themselves in her will still adore her, because she is so believably, humanly odd, and anxious, with her pocketknife and her notebooks full of field notes about Other Humans. She is so capable, and she has so much grit, and she has a prickly outside but only because she is raw and soft inside her shell. We love her because she’s us.

And then you have Jane, who is so much larger than life, who is a hardcore, honest-to-the-gods punk and definitely knows how to make and use a molotov cocktail. She’s sexy and confident and brave and unselfconscious. She’s dazzling. She’s the love interest who makes us swoon. And she is not a damsel in distress, but she does need rescuing, and something about the juxtaposition of that – the strength and need, the confidence and the vulnerability, the badassery and the fear of what she’s trapped in – I am not used to analysing love interests, but I think McQuiston nailed it. We love August because she’s us; we love Jane because we want to be her. And help her. And maybe kiss her. PERHAPS.

August thinks she’s going to need more notebooks. It’ll take a million to hold this girl.

The dynamic between them, the way the relationship develops… I mean. I wanted to cackle and also to cheer and there was definitely some swooning going on. There are some Delightful Tropes. There are moments of silliness. And there is so much heart in this; not passion (although there’s that too) but, just…caring. Both of these girls have such huge hearts, and so much kindness and compassion to give, to give to each other. Watching how that – that kind of intrinsic trying-to-be-a-good-person-ness – evolved into romantic love? Is beautiful.

And so, so funny.

And, I mean. I’m ace, so I hope that gives a bit more weight to my declaration that oh yes, the sexy is here, there, and everywhere. It’s so well done??? I shouldn’t have been surprised after Red, White & Royal Blue, but still – wow. It’s hot and wonderful and there’s all the emotion and giggles and it’s just genuinely *chef’s kiss* brilliant.

she grabs August by the chin and kisses her hard and brilliant, an open-mouthed exhale, shotgunning summer sunshine.

Zooming out from August and Jane for a minute… This is a romantic comedy; there is romance, and there is a lot of comedy. But it’s also deeply and profoundly a queer book, a book about modern queerness and queer history, about the queer experience, about the found-family so many queer people end up building and forming and falling into. The one we make, not necessarily because our blood-family is bad, but because there is something special, a relief and a joy, in finding Our People, in forming a pack of People Like Us. It’s more than ‘oh, you’re not cishet either?’ I’m ace, but I don’t magically click with every other ace person on the planet. It doesn’t work like that. It’s not about the specifics of your sexuality and/or gender identity matching those of the people around you. It’s about being queer. Queerness as an identity. As a philosophy, as an outlook, as a way of existing in the world and interacting with it. It means something slightly different for everyone, but it always means community. It always means family.

And that’s a huge part of One Last Stop. The romance is at the center of it all; of course it is. But the romance wouldn’t work without August’s support network, without the family she’s managed to find in New York. Without them teaching her how to let people in, I don’t see how she could ever have reached out to Jane, and then we wouldn’t have this book, and that would be a tragedy.

August and Jane are incredible – but so are the rest of the cast. The roommates, oh, the roommates!!! The drag queens, the fry cooks, even August’s mother – they all feel so real, like they’ll step out from the pages at any moment, or like you might step in, and either way you’ll be laughing till you cry because gods, they are all just awesome.

“I wish I were never born,” August moans into the floor.

“Retweet,” Wes says solemnly.

And I have to take a sec to mention how McQuiston quietly draws a line that goes Queer Past –> Queer Present. We don’t get taught queer history in school, and a lot of us don’t know much about it, and one of the most poignant moments in the book has got to be when August realises that this beautiful, glittery, celebratory event she’s at wouldn’t exist without the people like Jane having come before them and laid the groundwork, going to war for it. Without the rioters and the steel-toed boots and the demonstrations and the people who fought for it. There are many parts of the world still fighting – hells, who am I kidding, we’re all still fighting, the fight isn’t over yet. But we’ve come a long way from the 1970s, and I get to live the life I want because of all the people who came before me, and that is precious, it matters, and it was wonderful to see it acknowledged. I hope it inspires people to read up on and research our history. It’s important.

There is so much to One Last Stop. It has layers and layers like a stack of pancakes and there is so much syrup and everything about it is perfect. It’s about finding your feet and finding Your People and finding a romance for the ages. It’s about being weird and awkward and how there are people who will love you anyway, who will love you because of your weirdTM. It’s about blood-family and found-family and taking notes and Making Plans. It’s about finding your teeth and your laugh and your power, the power of being yourself, and yes I know how cheesy that sounds but deal with it, just because it’s cheesy doesn’t mean it’s not still true.

This is a book that will light you up inside, that will make you smile and grin and laugh out loud. It’s a book that makes the rest of the world disappear, drags you in and wraps you up and magics all the aches and pains and exhaustion away. It is indulgence; it is escapism; it is a delight. One Last Stop is a defibrillator that will shock your heart full of pure ridiculous fierce joy, and it is perfect. It is perfect.

It’s out today. Go buy your copy already!

five-stars

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