{ Review } Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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“Straight people, he thinks, probably don’t spend this much time convincing themselves they’re straight.”

Read in September 2019

My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

This book was so cute, uplifting and heartwarming I could die, and honestly it left me so full of hope. It’s taking place in an alternate version of today’s world, where Ellen Claremont was elected to be the first woman president of the United-States right after Obama’s second mandate. Not only she is a woman (and a Democrat), she is also a divorced single mother. Twenty-one years old Alexander Gabriel Clermont-Diaz and his sister June are living at the White House as First Son and First Daughter. Charismatic, impulsive and ambitious Alex is one of our two main characters, the story is told through his eyes. He is biracial (Mexican and white), has ADHD and now he has to go to a royal wedding where his one and only archnemesis, the grandson of the Queen of England, will be present.

“Sugar, I cannot express to you how much the press does not give a fuck about who started what,” Ellen says. “As your mother, I can appreciate that maybe this isn’t your fault, but as the president, all I want is to have the CIA fake your death and ride the dead-kid sympathy into a second term.”

And what is there to like about the Prince of Wales? Henry George Edward James Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor is a cold beauty, stoic and reserved. Their disliking is mutual and they soon start a fight at the end of which both of them end up falling on the wedding cake, starting a major diplomatic incident. The tabloids are speculating and to avoid a PR nightmare, their families came to an agreement, to save face, they have to pretend they are friends, hang out at public events and post Instagram pictures together. Especially since Alex’s mother is currently campaigning for the 2020 reelection and Alex himself is trying to launch his political career trying to be the youngest member of Congress in modern history. But soon their fake-friendship turns into real and genuine friendship and they are both starting to develop romantical feelings toward one another.


Alex was such an awesome lead character, other than the rep (Latinx and ADHD), I loved how he was questioning his sexuality, how he realized that he wasn’t only into girls and was actually shocked about it (before being his chill-self and be super okay about it). Henry is still in the closet to most of his family, being gay is frowned upon in the royal family and those who knows expect him to repress and suppress and to live his life pretending for the sake of his country. If they were discovered, it would be a mediatic disaster, nonetheless, they both decide they are willing to take the risk and to continue exploring this relationship, hiding from everyone and more particularly the media.

“Stop trying to Jane Austen my life!” he yells back.
“Listen, it’s not my fault he’s a mysterious and retiring young royal and you’re the tempestuous ingénue that caught his eye, okay?”

The way Alex slowly comes out about his bisexuality to himself first, when he realizes that his assumptions over his supposed straightness might have been incorrect, and then, with those the closest to him and that was so well written and, in my opinion, totally relatable. Honestly, Alex’s family is pure gold, and they made me feel so warm inside. When he comes out to his mother and that she makes a powerpoint presentation with one of the slides titled: EXPLORING YOUR SEXUALITY: HEALTHY, BUT DOES IT HAVE TO BE WITH THE PRINCE OF ENGLAND? I literally burst out laughing.


The family and friendships dynamic were also one of the highlights of this book and the cast was excellent. They were diverse, deep and well-written, Nora, June, Bea, Pez, Zahra, Amy, Ellen and so many other each brought their own footprint to the story, it made me feel like I really was living Alex’s life and I adored them for it. They are a perfect representation of the millennial in both diversity and awareness of the world surrounding them. Alex’s parents and sister were so supportive that they brought tears to my eyes more than once.

“I am your mother. I was your mother before I was ever the president, and I’ll be your mother long after, to the day they put me in the ground and beyond this earth. You are my child. So, if you’re serious about this, I’ll back your play.”

The enemies-to-lovers is one of my favourite tropes, however, it’s the first time I’ve read a book that shows the enemies-because-they-are-overwhelmed-by-unresolved-sexual-tension to fake-friends-still-attracted-af to why-the-hell-do-I-need-to-talk-to-you-everyday to why-does-kissing-feels-so-good to finally-lovers tropes (yes, that’s a thing now). Even though I often feel frustrated when there is sexual tension and that the characters still need to go through the ‘friends’ box, I really enjoyed that the author took time to develop their friendship. It made me even more invested in their relationship and I think this is also why they ended up more than just sex-buddies. Henry discovered Alex’s soft heart and realised that it was ok to not go through the traditional military way and focus on his philanthropic aspiration.

“A curious thing about grief is the way it takes your entire life, all those foundational years that made you who you are, and makes them so painful to look back upon because of the absence there, that suddenly they’re inaccessible. You must invent an entirely new system.”

I also could have been frustrated by the long-distance-relationship, but their texting/emailing/phonecalls were too sweet for my own mental health. I lived for their heartfelt, nerdy and cheesy love letters. The third-person narrative was a bit bothering since I prefer the first-person, but Alex’s voice was so genuine that I bore with it. Also, taking into account that it’s Casey’s debut novel, I’m admirative with her writing style as well as with how she was careful to be throughout with her characters. If one was mentioned, he was developed and fleshed out. The intimate scenes were beautifully written, with enough details that this book would definitely fall in the NA category, but it wasn’t all that graphic, so it could be accessible for the older teens (16-17 yo would work perfectly fine).

“That’s why you – Oh my God, I thought you were getting into international relations or something.”
“I mean technically –“
“If you finish this sentence, I’m gonna spend tonight in jail.”

 

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Have you read or will you read this book?
What did you think about it?

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French Book Blogger and avid reader 📚 - YA, Adult, NA, Fantasy, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance -, LGBT & disability rep 🏳️‍🌈, Ravenclaw Potterhead △⃒⃘, English teacher 👩🏼‍🏫 living to travel 🌍, proud mom of Padfoot 🐕 and Juniper 🐈

6 thoughts on “{ Review } Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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