→Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
| ★★★★★ | released earlier 2019 |
As usual, the day guard at the Dirksen Building glares at him as he slides through security. She’s certain he was the one who vandalized the sign outside one particular senator’s office to read BITCH MCCONNELL, but she’ll never prove it.
A ridiculous romance between the made-up prince of England and the made-up son of the made-up first woman president has no right to be this good. And yet.
For those of you wondering if I’m joking about the premise of this book, I am completely not. It’s escapism to a world where American politics are at their normal level of messed up, but. You know. The election went in a different direction. (The popular vote direction, just like, by the way.)
It’s a book about the importance of loving in a world very very desperate to tear down love. The use of historical love letters… OOF. Radclyffe Hall to Evguenia Souline, Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens, Eleanor Roosevelt to Lorena Hickock, Michelangelo to Tommaso Cavalieri, Wilfred Owen to Siegfried Sassoon, Jean Cocteaua to Jean Marais. I will say it: the Vita-Sackville-West-to-Virginia-Woolf letter is absolutely one of my favorite pieces of writing of all time and makes me cry daily. And the line “history, huh?” got me.
And it’s a book about love as a choice. The line “On purpose. I love him on purpose.” has reached an almost memetic level on Tumblr and Twitter, but I get it. There are so many narratives, especially in queer lit, about love as something choiceless. But the thing is love is always a choice. When you find the right person, it’s a good one.
It helps that the cast of characters is just really excellent. Alex and Henry are both really well-written characters, but Alex’s narration is genuinely incredibly hilarious. I laugh easily, but I’ve found that writing good humor can be kind of hard, and this worked for me. Nora and June are each good side characters. I also really appreciated characters like Bea, Pez, and Zahra, who show up briefly but make an impact anyway.
I will now proceed to scream. But. that is why this is objectively ridiculous romance novel resonated with me harder than 90% of the books I’ve read this year, as a lesbian who is almost definitely going to major in history or polisci (or both, I have another year). It’s about the tenderness and also about the weight of expressing love and also about how both our global context and our community history unite and bind us as queer people.
some lines and moments from this book I will be thinking about a lot:
➽I only started writing these down in the second half but Alex’s bi crisis… i get it. i really do
➽”It’s a week. The polls aren’t great, Paul Ryan is getting sanctimonious about the second amendment,”
➽“her son’s fucking quarter life NATO sexual crisis”
➽the PowerPoint presentation had me CRYING
➽“the phrase see attached bibliography is the single sexiest thing you have ever written to me” like I’m sorry what a fucking mood
➽“American politics: truly fascinating” “you wanna talk, Henry VIII?”
➽when Henry swan-dives into a lake and inwardly Alex is like he’s so gorgeous and outwardly Alex is like “do you have to be so goddamn extra”
➽the forty seven texts ending up being 46 from June and one from Nora asking where she left her white shoes
➽the Prince consort road
➽“Take a picture with me with the sign!”
➽“The top list of reasons to love you goes brain, then dick, then imminent status as a revolutionary gay icon”
➽the sheer amount of times Alex threatens to physically fight someone
➽sometimes it’s for Henry’s honor but most of the time it’s not
➽“lmaooooooooooo wait look at page 22 of the emails alex is such a hoe”
➽everything Zahra does in this entire book
➽also everything Bea does in this entire book
➽Henry’s speech to Philip aka one of the single most legendary things I’ve ever read
➽“plus, we banged it out last night”
➽Henry’s mom really came in and saved their asses like that she did that and she did it for us (the gays)
➽that fucking TWEET about DC dykes on bikes chasing down the westboro baptist church
➽“Sufia, am I allowed to say that?” “literally, when has that ever stopped you?”
➽Amy and her wife!!!!!!!! at the parade!!
➽this doesn’t really have to do with the book but please Texas. please become a swing state faster. I know you’re on your way but it would be really kind and generous of you to go blue in 2020. please