In her second romance novel “One Last Stop,” Casey McQuiston creates a story full of human connections, sassy banter and a deep understanding of queer history and community.
This time-slip romantic comedy novel features the charm and opportunity New York City has to offer while highlighting the vulnerability of first loves within the city.
McQuiston’s novel took me on an emotional train ride, to say the least. Even though the plot is introduced relatively early in the book, McQuiston keeps you wanting to know more. I was so eager to get to the end and figure out the resolutions to the characters’ problems, I couldn’t put the book down.
When a pessimistic August Landry arrives in New York City for college, she plans to go about her closed-off life and stick to herself. Before her move, August was determined to never get too comfortable in one place. But once she gets involved in the drag queen community and meets her roommates and a gorgeous woman on the train, she begins to do the unexpected. August begins to settle down in the city.
August is relatable to most early 20-year-olds, especially myself.
We see her struggling to figure out a career and see her constantly expecting the worst, in fear that everything she cares about will crumble around her. I feel like most young adults feel this dread when it comes to establishing a career and life for themselves when they’re young. McQuiston normalizes these fears and allows us to see August make a transformation that proves she’s sure of herself by the end of the book.
When August meets Jane Su on the Q train, it is love at first sight for August. A punk Jane, who is full of charm and mystery, quickly becomes the best part of August’s days. While one might think that everything is smooth sailing for the two, there’s one giant problem; Jane is stuck on the Q train.
Not only is Jane unable to get off the train, but she’s also displaced in time from the 1970s with no memory of how she got there or stuck in the first place. She only becomes aware of time and how long she’s been displaced when August begins putting pieces of the puzzle together for her.
August, who is used to piecing together puzzles with her mother, decides she is going to get Jane off the train and back in the ’70s, no matter the circumstances. When August begins working on Jane’s “case” and recovering her memories, her timeline is cut drastically short when she finds out the Q train will be shutting down at the end of summer.
In August’s efforts to get Jane off the train before then, readers are fed Jane’s adventurous, lust-filled memories with each train ride. They learn about her family life, what it was like being a lesbian in the ’70s and about all the lives Jane has touched before she got stuck. While reliving these memories, both August and Jane start to fall in love with each other. August quickly realizes in all the time she spends with Jane that Q train in itself “is a time, a place and a person.”
Despite August’s determination to get Jane back to her decade, their romantic train dates and hook-ups prove that sticking to that objective is going to be hard for August. The more and more August tries to keep a reasonable emotional distance, the more she wants Jane to stay with her in their current timeline.
“One Last Stop” is an electrifying love story that shows duality in its protagonists. Readers see August as a cynical and cautious woman, too afraid to be hurt or rejected, so she rarely invites people into her life. Then they see Jane, who is fearless, noble and kind, standing up for anyone who needs it. Readers see how these characters begin to break down each other’s walls.
McQuiston not only highlights a charming love story, but she highlights inclusivity in all the characters. She includes transgender characters, an entire community of drag queens and portrays each character in such a safe and charismatic way. Readers will fall in love with August and Jane and with the characters who surround them. They bring a sense of family and community to the story.
“One Last Stop” is full of twists and turns that will take you on an emotional journey, from laughing out loud to crying heartfelt tears. Seeing this love story blossom will have you wondering why you haven’t met your edgy soulmate on the train yet.