Title: Red, White & Royal Blue
Author: Casey McQuiston
Edition/Pages: Ebook, 432 pages
I just want to start off by saying that this is the best debut novel I have ever read. And I’m going out on a limb and calling it now – I think this will be my favorite book of 2019.
Now buckle up, I’m about to gush for long hot minute.
But the truth is, also, simply this: love is indomitable.
This follows Alex, the First Son to the first female president of the United States, and Henry, the Prince of Wales. The two of them have been rivals since they met as teens. Now, a scuffle at the royal wedding leaks to the press and threatens international relations. To try and fix the situation, they are forced to pretend to be best friends until things calm down.
But what starts of as a simple press scheme, turns into so much more. And their secret relationship threatens more than just their own futures.
This is told in third person from Alex’s point of view as well as email exchanges between Alex and Henry.
This is one of the single most quotable books I’ve ever read – I highlighted 26 passages on my first read through.
Content Warnings: Racism, grief, drug abuse, homophobia, anxiety.
Alex wishes he could help, but he doesn’t particularly mind. He’s just as attracted to Henry’s cloudy tempers, the way he comes back from them, and the millions of shades in between.
What I Liked
1. Alex and Henry are the most precious couple and I would protect them with my life. Reading and following their relationship was so beautiful and heartwarming. Everything was stacked against these two and I was pulling for them from page 1.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be allowed to tell the world, but I… I want to. One day. If there’s any legacy for me on this bloody earth, I want it to be true, so I can offer you all of me, in whatever way you’ll have me, and I can offer you the chance of a life.
But the thing is, jumping off cliffs in kinda my thing. That’s the choice. I love him, with all that, because of all that. On purpose. I love him on purpose.
2. These are some of the best side characters I’ve ever read. There are a lot of side characters – family, friends, security, etc – but I connected to all of them. I don’t know how McQuiston gave so much substance to so many characters but everyone felt like a fully fledged character.
3. The banter and one-liners. Oh. My. God. The dialogue in this was utter perfection. McQuiston captured how 20-somethings talk so perfectly. It was funny, and witty, but still intelligent.
The phrase “see attached bibliography” is the single sexiest thing you have ever written to me
4. The family dynamic. Alex talks frequently about his family’s history – their Mexican and Texan roots, the difficulty of having both of his divorced parent’s last names, and dealing with their mentally/time intensive careers. You were shown the tension that caused but also how it brought everyone together. Despite tension, everyone stood by each other unwavering. It was such an amazing but real depiction of a strong family unit. And Alex and his sister June are one of my favorite sibling duos ever.
5. This book hit so many difficult things – gender, sexuality, grief, race, etc. And it had me running the gamut of emotions, I laughed, cried, and everything in between. But in the end I was swept away by the hopefulness of this book. This book just leaves you feeling so inspired and hopeful in the end. I absolutely want to believe in this future.
This is it. October 2, 2020, and the whole world watched, and history remembered.
6. Read the Acknowledgements! McQuiston shares about her writing experience and it made me tear up all over again.
What I Didn’t Like
Literally nothing. This book is complete and utter perfection.
I can’t recommend this book enough. Please, please pick this up. This story was moving and so important. And it left me feeling so hopeful and full of love for these characters.