by Hesandi Jayasekara
Featured image by Nyesha Viechweg
History, huh? Bet we could make some, has been a phrase that has been ringing through Tumblr and Twitter subcultures since this book was first released in 2019, and with good reason. In times like these, when the world seems devoid of hope Red, White and Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston’s debut – a New Adult novel featuring a romantic relationship between the fictional First Son of the United States and the Prince of Wales, proves to be exactly the book we need when we want a respite from real life, especially if you, like me, have had frantically checked their news app one too many times.
Is a book capable of lighting you up from the inside and making you believe that there’s love in this world, after all? That there’s a light at the end of a tunnel, especially during the times that we live in? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White and Royal Blue proves to be exactly that, while casting some optimism to our daily lives in the process.
What, exactly, is the premise of Red, White and Royal Blue? In a world where the United States of America decided to elect a woman as the president for 2016, who had been married to a Mexican man and had biracial children to boot, this book expects us to suspend our disbelief from its very beginning. By leaving reality behind for this idealistic flight of fancy by McQuiston, it even becomes easy to relate to the struggles of the main characters; Alex, a workaholic whose main ambition is to become a senator before the age of thirty, and Henry, the charming Prince of Wales, who’s afraid of his own feelings.
McQuiston renders her characters with exquisite feeling, even her minor characters coming alive with a sense of purpose in her hands. From June, Alex’s sister, who is just as ambitious as him and wants to become a journalist, to Zara, the president’s advisor, this book offers an array of dynamic characters that makes you feel comforted and grounded in reality, even though the situations described are as far from reality and far more idealistic than we could guess, especially since most of the book is set in 2020, an year where we all witnessed the worst and best of humanity simultaneously.
In a book that features more heartfelt love letters than most of us are capable of writing, it is not a surprise that it is a love story, but what’s surprising is that it is more than a love story; all the characters, throughout this novel, become better versions of themselves, especially Alex, who learns to make his high ambitions into something more manageable, to not make work the entire purpose of his life, while Henry learns to embrace his sexuality and stand up for himself and what – and who – he loves.
All in all, Red, White and Royal Blue is a novel of endurance, hope and joy, and one of the best, feel-good novels I have read to this date.
Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Good For: Readers of LGBT fiction and romance, Young Adults
Review Author: Hesandi Jayasekara
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