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Make a list, right now, of the things you would do to get your hands on this book - this "weird, fun, horny project" of Casey McQuiston's heart - because you should not let it slip away unread.
I'm not a rom-com kind of gal. My girlfriend is, and so, with every fibre of her being, if we're not parked on the sofa with a beer at least once a week watching something with Sandra Bullock, Drew Barrymore, or Julia Roberts in, there will be fury.* Hell hath no fury like a rom-com-less queer.
However, McQuiston's One Last Stop might just have me converted. This book was a joy. A wonderful, dreamy, smart and swoony romantic comedy, and one that will occupy my brain for a long time to come.
August is a cynical twenty-three-year-old, moving to New York to affirm her cynicism with life; magic and love and romance don't exist, and the only smart way to get through life is on your own. She's moved from city to city, university to university, state to state trying to find a place that will feel like home. A home she's never truly known. Now, in grimy New York City, she can disappear into crowds, she can wait tables at a 24-hour diner, and move in with weird roommates, and just get by. That's that. Nothing new, nothing exciting.
But then there's this gorgeous girl on the train.
Jane. Jane is dazzling, charming, mysterious. Impossible. She's got rough edges, swoopy hair, a soft smile, and a leather jacket. She turns up when August needs her most, and the commute they share soon becomes the best part of August's day.
But there's something not quite right. August must make the impossible possible, and save the girl of her dreams.
One Last Stop is a romance unlike I've ever read before. And yes, I know, I'm not one to fall into that genre, but god McQuiston made me fall in love here. It gives a whole new meaning to the slow burn yearn. And the found family around August? Just as important to how I read and enjoyed the book, just as fully fleshed out. There's a trans Latino psychic bartender, a queer Black electrical engineer with an adoptive Chinese mother, a queer Jewish tattoo artist. There are references to August's conception via IVF. There's a huge emphasis on the New York drag scene, and the ways in which queer people of colour continue their groundbreaking work. McQuiston pays homage beautifully to the history of the LGBTQ+ community in San Francisco and New York, and the scale of the heartbreaking loss of lives and happiness involved to ensure our rights and freedoms today - and it's so well done.
Surrounding yourself with people who amplify your voice, support your needs, and celebrate you unconditionally is central to this book - and a central take home for its readers. McQuiston pays homage to the past beautifully, and in doing so reminds us of the hope for the future, and the need to continuing amplifying marginalised voices.
And maybe that's where romcoms - non-LGBT ones - for me, fall short. They're not always my voice. They're an escape, yes, but they're not the searing romance interwoven with the difficult, beautiful, important history, that McQuiston weaves together in One Last Stop. This book is the escapism we need. It's a chance to feel heard, in a time when everyone else's voice - the news, the heartbreak, the difficulties of the past twelve months - can feel so loud around us.
I can't stress enough how much I loved this book, how much I loved the characters, how clever and important the inclusive - awkward, exploratory, curious - f/f sex scenes were. I wouldn't miss this book, even if you're a Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Drew Barrymore-kinda romcom fan.
One Last Stop will be published 1st June 2021.
*There's an addendum to this article, by said Girlfriend, who maintains that hearing me repeatedly recount lines from The Proposal does in fact include me prior to this article as a romcom fan. Debatable...
Review by Becca Hamilton.