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.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston, the author of Red, White, and Royal Blue, is a New Adult story with relatable characters and a hopeful message.
My Constant Q-Trains of Thought
There were several things that I enjoyed immensely about One Last Stop, but the first is directly related to something very close to me. In the cover art for the novel, August is plus-sized. There are several nods to her weight throughout the story, always at seemingly irrelevant moments. I think that there’s a chance that those mentions might strike some as odd, but I loved them because I look like August. I’m also a teenage girl with unlimited access to social media, so coming to terms with the reality of my weight and learning to embrace it was hard. Every day, when I move throughout the world, I am grateful for my body and happy to exist within it. But there are those moments when I realize that I’m developing feelings for someone or that old clothes don’t fit me anymore, and insecurity comes wheeling back around to slap me right across the face.
So for me, the fact that August’s weight appears once and is referenced only occasionally was brilliant. It wasn’t that important to anyone, including her, so acknowledging or discussing her weight wasn’t necessary. But it was still there, and it was still representation, and it was still this girl who looked like me. August is widely loved in One Last Stop, not merely as the funny plus-sized friend doomed never to get the girl. Hope is a central theme throughout the novel, and I was grateful for McQuiston giving me some, too.
I loved the inclusion of newspaper and Craigslist ads between chapters, and I think they offered insight into Jane’s story that dialogue alone could not have achieved. It would have felt clunky and forced, and I was glad to have those additional insights into her character. And it’s funny to me how I read two books in a row that employed that device. I also loved how August and Jane communicated through music (and not just because I will make playlists about people and wonder if they’re seeing them on my Spotify listening activity updates).
And, finally, I loved how One Last Stop made me feel. I’m prone to cry during books, and I’m almost always invested in what I’m reading, but One Last Stop made me feel downright anxious. I wasn’t just interested in seeing what was going to happen next—I was on the edge of my chair at one o’clock in the morning on a Thursday because I had to know how everything was going to end.
Stuff That’s a Little Off the Rails
My biggest problem with One Last Stop was with some throw-away lines. When telling Jane all about New York City in 2020, August promises her that New York “isn’t like that anymore” in reference to concerns Jane had shared about racism, homophobia, and transphobia. Jane grew up a Queer, Asian-American woman in the 1960s and 1970s. Telling Jane that the world has changed so much in 45 years and that Jane’s experiences are things of the past is misleading and, in my opinion, dismissive of the trauma that Jane still very clearly carries.
My MVP (Most Valued Passenger): Jane
How to begin to describe how I feel about Jane… I wrote down in my notes every time a character said or did something that resonated with me. At one point, Jane declares that her experiences don’t define her; they add a bit of color and help to “pin down the edges.” This is a self-fulfilling prophecy since Jane becomes less of a perfect person as she learns more about her situation and the events that got her to where she is. For me, this translated to: it’s okay to carry baggage and trauma and things that we might consider to be ugly or unflattering. When we can’t address or identify the things we’ve been through, we’re left missing that closure—that little bit of color.
Do I Recommend This? Yes!
Age Recommendation: 18+ (This is not a YA book like I thought it was before I read it.)
Trigger/Content Warnings: Homophobia and transphobia (sometimes violent), racism, use of alcohol and other substances (such as marijuana), explorations and descriptions of anxiety/depression and grief