A young woman on her way to her first day of classes at Brooklyn College spills coffee on herself just prior to boarding the subway. Another young woman on the train comes to her rescue with a scarf and a kind word. The next time the student boards the train, her rescuer is there. They declare each other “coffee-girl” and “subway girl” and begin chatting. Is it a “meet cute” of the type employed in almost every/any romance novel? Absolutely! But, in the hands of Casey McQuiston, author of 2019’s fantastic Red, White, and Royal Blue, it is the beginning of so much more!
In One Last Stop, McQuiston tells how August, on her way to her first day of classes, meets Jane. Jane is the hottest girl August has ever seen. After Jane rescues August from her coffee accident, August resigns herself to the fact that she will probably never see Jane again. In a city the size of New York City, what are the odds of two strangers meeting up accidentally on the same train twice? In spite of the odds, it happens. Jane is on the train the next morning. And the next, and the next. As they talk and get to know each other, something becomes clear to August: Jane doesn’t just seem to be someone fascinated with the 70s, she actually IS someone from the 70s, riding the Q train any and every time August boards the subway. How is this possible? How did it happen? Can August help Jane escape whatever forces are keeping her on the train? August has so many questions. But there is one thing of which she is certain: she has fallen in love with Jane.
As August works on unravelling how and why Jane is stuck in the subway, Jane is able to tell her about the life she was living in the 1970s. McQuiston uses Jane’s life to provide a primer for readers on a brief, but wonderful, history of the LGBTQ community over the last five decades. She illustrates how far, as a culture, we’ve come and how we’re slowly moving to being more inclusive. McQuiston also illustrates the necessity, over the years, for the “found families” that LGBTQ youth have always created and participated in to support each other when family relations are simply unable, or unwilling, to support and accept LGBTQ children.
Where One Last Stop really shines is McQuiston’s characters. She provides characters that inhabit the depth, breadth, and range of the diversity that exists within the LGBTQ community and their allies. The characters in One Last Stop run the gamut of nearly every type of person, whether it is someone straight, gay, bi, trans, or anything/one else found on the spectrum.
The time travel paradox presented is fun, but it is also primarily the necessary obstacle that exists in all romances that must be overcome for the lovers to have their happily ever after. It is an intriguing spin on some established tropes and, as mentioned previously, McQuiston uses it to her advantage.
One Last Stop is, above everything else, fun!! It is the perfect balance of fluffy wish fulfillment with a dose of just enough reality to make what is described appear to have at least a toe, if not a foot, in reality and that it could actually happen. And by the end of the book, readers will wish they could meet someone as perfect for them as Jane is for August, the next time they take public transit.
Read an interview with Casey McQuiston here.