Review of “One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston

Finding and Falling in Love on a NYC Subway


Josie Sedam, PaperClip Staff/Writer

Note: “One Last Stop” is an NA (New Adult) romance, not YA (Young Adult) – the characters are in their 20s and the content is more mature.  

Trigger Warnings (as adapted from this source):

On-page: Drinking, light drug use (weed), sexual content, exploration of depression and anxiety, memory loss and cognitive issues, familial estrangement, familial death, grief, missing persons, implied PTSD

Off-page, past, and alluded to: Homophobic violence and hate speech, police violence, the AIDS crisis, racism, childhood neglect, arson, historic hate crime resulting in loss of life

“One Last Stop,” or OLS, by Casey McQuiston (bestselling author of “Red, White and Royal Blue” – uses any pronouns) just hit bookstore shelves on June 1st, and is already making noise. It follows the journey of 23-year-old, August Landry, who moves to New York City in search of finding her place in the world, even if she won’t admit it.

August is fleeing from her single mother and her conspiracy theories surrounding the disappearance of her uncle. Upon arriving in the city, she finds a flyer advertising an apartment available for rent with three other roommates. She figures it is probably the best deal she’ll get until she can find a job. 

There she meets Myla, Niko, and Wes, a unique combination of an eccentric engineer, part-time psychic (full-time houseplant tender), and quiet handyman, each with their own shine. August gets a job at Pancake Billy’s House of Pancakes (yes that’s the real name), and starts to find herself at home in between maple syrup hair and Myla’s odd sculptures. 

When August spills coffee on herself on the way to her classes, during one of her first mornings in the city, she doesn’t expect her day to improve. In walks Jane Su, “subway girl,” and August can’t help but fall in love with her easy charm and magnetic smile. In an effort to keep seeing Jane, August tries to synch their commutes. They keep meeting each day without fail.

Everything would be great, except there’s a slight snag: Jane can’t seem to leave the Q-train. And what’s worse — she can barely remember who she is. Her total retro-70s look and lack of pop culture knowledge might not actually be an aesthetic. As August begins to fall for a girl stuck in time, she has to drag pieces of her past to her present to keep her heart intact.

“One Last Stop” is a romantic, charming, and witty story about struggling in your 20s, found family, first love, and finding your place. However, just because the characters are in their early-to-mid 20s doesn’t hinder younger readers from connecting.  At the heart of all of McQuiston’s works are their characters. They have demonstrated their aptitude for delivering character-driven stories beat-by-beat, with both their first and second novels. August’s cynicism hiding her big heart, Jane’s effortless laughter and quick flirtations, and the charisma of all the background characters create a lovable and warm atmosphere. 

Loreley Godfrey, another student reader who received an early copy, considered her biggest takeaway from the story to be, “…on the definition of love. McQuiston explores interactions of love on casual platonic bases as well as romantic ones. August starts over in the hectic city of NYC and is able to find meaning and connection with her roommates, while further falling in love with a ghost on the subway. August’s culminating decision…is indicative of how August’s perception of love has expanded to center on selflessness.” 

When asked about her favorite character, Godfrey said,  “I loved all the characters in OLS, but I was most struck by August’s growth in self-confidence and her relationships.” 

For fans of McQuiston’s first novel, “Red, White, and Royal Blue” or RW&RB, Godfrey assures that readers will be equally enamored with her second novel: ““Red, White and Royal Blue” and “One Last Stop” really have trajectories of found family and falling in love within vastly different contexts, but the relationships that hooked readers in RW&RB are even stronger and increasingly prevalent in OLS.” 

On characters, Godfrey shares, “McQuiston’s strength is writing relationships: in OLS, August meets a range of characters with diverse backgrounds who are able to find connections with each other through the shared identity as members of the queer community…The genuity of August’s relationships light up the page, and they were definitely my favorite part.”

But, not every book is perfect, Godfrey reminds us: “The biggest weakness of the book is how long it takes to understand the time-traveling on the subway…While it was an intentional choice for McQuiston’s structure, I believe it will end up a detriment to some first-time readers.”

“One Last Stop” is heartfelt and heartbreaking in all the right ways, and like any good rom-com, the ending is sweet and fits the characters. August, Jane, and the whole apartment gang will worm their way into your heart within the first few chapters. They’re clever and well-rounded with believable, entertaining banter that carries along slower parts. The romance between August and Jane is the beating heart of the story. It feels very natural, and the key moments between the characters bring their relationship to a new level.

“OLS” is a diverse and joyously queer narrative making it a fantastic read, especially during Pride month. With unique characters and engaging dynamics, “One Last Stop” is a charming, romantic, impossible story about chosen family and finding love on a New York City subway.