Wow! This will be a hard rom-com to beat for 2021 and qualifies as one of those rare books you immediately fall in love with and go on to instantly want to re-read the moment you put it down. It has cemented its place on our shelves, in our hearts, and in our recommendations going forward!
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston follows August, a girl in her early twenties moving to New York City, which sounds completely basic – except it is not. August is not your typical wide-eyed, enamored tourist, turned wannabe New York. She is already jaded. She is already cynical. And what better way to go through life alone than being an anonymous New Yorker – one of almost 8.5 million nameless faces going about their day in solitude. Alas, her plans go out the door when she interviews to be a roommate of three friends – Niko, Myla, and Wes.
Instantly August is pushed to her social interaction limit as Niko and Myla in particular will not take August’s standoffish personality as a final answer. They push her not only to become part of their found family, to become a waitress at a Brooklyn institution and their favorite diner – Pancake Billy’s House of Pancakes.
And there is another person who pushes August out of her cynical, self-preservation shell – Jane. On one of August’s early commutes to school and Billy’s, a woman catches her eye on the “Q”. August is instantly drawn to Jane’s punk rock energy, her mysteriousness, and of course her good looks. Through their interactions one thing becomes increasingly clear – Jane is always there. No really. She’s ALWAYS there.
Together they come to the conclusion that Jane is somehow trapped on the Q from the 1970s and it’s up to August and her friends to save Jane from her bound fate. But time is running out and as August and Jane grow closer, how will August ever let go?
For fans of Red, White & Royal Blue, One Last Stop does not disappoint and is a solid sophomore book! McQuiston does a wonderful job at nailing that odd feeling you have as your early twenties start to transform into your mid-twenties and you stare out into the unknown of actual adulthood as college comes to a close. What do you want to do? Who will you be? Where will your relationships go? What will you take from your past and what will you leave behind? There are equal parts excitement and equal parts dread for the future and which one is prevailing can even change by the minute. It is a delicate balance that is hard to put in words, and it is very clearly and beautifully captured in August’s story.
One Last Stop is full of McQuiston’s signature character banter – starting on page one. The fast-paced conversation style their characters’ have is extremely reminiscent of Gilmore Girls – which is a plus in our book. McQuiston’s writing style lends itself to feeling completely organic like a string of thoughts running through your head. It makes you feel as if you are experiencing the book in place of the character and really part of the story and very few authors achieve such flawless immersion as they do.
While the pacing of Red, White, and Royal Blue felt too quick in some areas and a little too drawn out in others – One Last Stop is perfectly paced. They do a fantastic job balancing Q scenes with external scenes so the reader does not feel trapped in one spot. And when August is away from the Q (and Jane) McQuiston is great at adding in tidbits to make the reader miss Jane just as August does.
A huge theme of this book is” found family”. McQuiston really makes the reader wish they could move in with August and company and play rolly bangs. One Last Stop has a wide range of relationships in all shapes and sizes and full of fleshed-out and complex characters. Most (if not all) of the characters in this book (even minor ones) are LGBTQ+ giving it a beautiful amount of natural rep that feels anything but forced or contrived.
Finally, Jane and August’s relationship is incredibly sweet and steamy. It captures that new relationship energy beautifully where you can’t get enough of the person, but your lives are not fully entwined yet so you spend your time apart daydreaming of them (and doing entirely too much texting). One of the ways they communicate when apart is through song requests on the radio which gives this relationship a nostalgic feel that turns the readers inside to warm mush.
If you are looking for a read that’s the equivalent of a warm hug or are in need of a serotonin boost please pick up One Last Stop. You will not be disappointed!