By Emily Hanson | | Layout Assistant
Picture this for a second: a relationship in mainstream media with two girls and time travel. It sounds too good to be true, right? Well, trust me, this new adult romance novel has all this, and you’ll want to read it: One Last Stop. Somehow the author, Casey McQuiston (who uses any pronouns), found a brilliant balance between sweet and spicy sapphic romance, science fiction (think Back To The Future but smarter), and an excitingly told coming-of-age story. All this to say, it’s also so cleverly written that you’ll wonder why Red, White, and Royal Blue is their only popular novel (go read that one, too, though, it’s incredible!).
The main character is August: a frazzled red-head living with three new roommates on her own in Brooklyn, NYC. She’s relatable from a college student perspective in that she’s taking on the city for the first time, shouldering work, classes, and new friendships, while also encountering her love interest for the first time: Jane. The two meet on the subway as a chance one-off encounter, but August starts to see Jane on the same train more often, and there might be more to the situation than either girl originally thought. It turns out Jane (who is punk, confident, black-haired, and extremely spirited) is actually from the 1970s, and has been stuck on the Q-train since then, with hardly any memories of who she is. It’s up to August to find a way to restore Jane’s memories and keep up with her own hectic New York City schedule.
Of course, I can’t spoil what happens in One Last Stop for you, but one of my favorite aspects of the plot is the discourse around queer activism in the 1970s. This might feel like a tangent, but stay with me—sometimes the best reason to read a book is to begin a long-awaited conversation, or explore a fundamental time period for queer history. In modern times, the characters celebrate some of the best parts about an entirely inclusive LGBTQ+ lifestyle: gay bars, drag shows, loving whoever you want, being whoever you want with no judgment; essentially, “People who don’t fit into any category but look as happy and wanted here as anyone else” (McQuiston 339). But there had to be a fight, a time in which people put their souls into creating a world in which they could just exist, and that primarily began in the 1970s.
Now, I don’t know about you, but there weren’t many times in high school (and by many I mean any) where we actually talked about LGBT civil rights in society, such as same-sex marriage and adoption or even simply liberation. But One Last Stop opened my eyes to so many pivotal moments and feelings in history that allowed this current state to thrive, for the characters in the novel and even for me and my community today. Jane’s retellings of her experiences (as an Asian lesbian in the early 70s) create such a vivid idea of what life was like for queer people that it literally obligated me to do my own research on the topics, and laugh, cry, and hope for these people that sacrificed their wellbeing to make their homes accept the people they loved. It was slow going, and it’s still not perfect by any means, but this activism by people who are everything I hope to be paved the way for not only a bright future, but any future. We have to learn from what came before us, and Casey McQuiston created a compelling point to start your journey if you hope to learn, too.
There’s so much more to this book than I could even hope to cover in a silly little book review. But I promise it has something for any reader, and you will spend nights thinking endlessly about what you just consumed—whether it be the activism, the science, the drag, the private investigation, the science, or just the cute romance (because that’s perfectly fine!). I’ve been back to revisit the pages of One Last Stop many times since I first read them when the novel debuted, and there is always something new I take away, in the minute details or the bigger picture. In my reading for this review, I was left with a lesson: you should never stop fighting to bring love into a world that really needs it.
First-year Emily Hanson is a Layout Assistant. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.