‘One Last Stop’ is a magical dreamscape of first love

June 25, 2021

With “One Last Stop,” Casey McQuiston officially earns the title of my favorite author. I’m a well known “Red, White & Royal Blue” fanatic, so I was equally excited and anxious about McQuiston’s new novel. On one hand, I was thrilled to read something new by them, but on the other, I couldn’t help but worry that my love of “Red, White & Royal Blue” would completely overshadow “One Last Stop.” Any fears were easily squashed and my excitement proved to not be enough, as McQuiston once again blew me away.

“One Last Stop” stars August Landry, a New Orleans native breaking free from her mother and searching for some roots to tie her to someplace new. She doesn’t expect to find a home in a Craigslist ad, but stranger things have happened in New York City. Her roomates—Myla, Niko and Wes—are an eclectic trio: Myla, the artist searching for meaning in her art; Niko, the “Long Island Medium” who knows more than August would like; and Wes, the classic sad art boy with an absolutely adorable dog named Noodles. Add Isaiah, the drag queen next door with a heart of gold and a tendency to blast music, and the apartment building is never dull. 

Sorry to bury the lede, but the most exciting new character is Jane Su, the girl on the subway. McQuiston once again writes a swoon-worthy romance. Jane is displaced from time, stuck eternally on a subway after the blackout of 1977. She’s not sure how she’s stuck here; she’s not sure how to break free; she’s not even sure of who she is. Jane is lost physically, mentally, linearly—she only knows her name because it’s printed on her jacket. Being around August brings back memories of others but never memories of herself. And yet, with a single kiss to August’s lips, Jane is found. Her most important memories finally come to light. It’s quite literally one of the most romantic concepts I’ve ever encountered. 

This romance is the biggest will-they/won’t-they that I have ever tortured myself with. To the exasperation of both August’s roommates and myself, it takes forever for the two girls to get together. Every time August takes the subway, you think, “Yes, this is it!”, but actually, it’s not. The angsty pining makes their first official date that much sweeter, though, knowing the amount of agonizing that led up to that perfect moment. 

As August falls in love, everything else around her falls apart. Her mother is still obsessed with finding her brother, August’s mysterious uncle, who has been missing for about 50 years. August is faced with the reality of actually graduating college and having no idea what she wants to do with her life. Pancake Billy’s House of Pancakes, the magical little diner she works at, is on the brink of shutting down thanks to raised rent. Wes is in love with a boy who loves him back but won’t stop complaining about it. Though these may all seem like very different struggles, McQusiton flawlessly intertwines them, making each element crucial to shaping the plot and August’s growth as a character.

It all culminates in a magnificent party in a subway control center. This party is packed with gallons of pancake batter, an excess of drag queens, drunk dancers, cringey ex-boyfriends, first kisses, marriage proposals, a heist and a risky plan that just might work. Needless to say, I wish I had an invite. No, I wish I had more than an invite: I’m pretty sure I would sell my soul to be a character in one of McQuiston’s novels. Every character that they write is outrageously lovable, and every plot they’ve crafted is perfectly executed—there is not a single detail out of place and not a single question left unanswered. 

“One Last Stop” is a magical dreamscape of first love, time travel and finding family in unexpected places. Unsurprisingly, I finished this 400+ page novel in less than a day, and I imagine you will too. The plot is convoluted yet easy to follow and incredibly captivating. The characters are all amazing. And, of course, the romance might just make even the biggest of cynics believe in love.