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Sydney Books reviews ‘Red, White & Royal Blue’

'Red White & Royal Blue' Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

Romantic comedy as a genre is one that many can find comfort in, usually in the form of films, but when it is found in a book, it truly has to be something special. “Red, White & Royal Blue” happens to be just that.

Casey McQuiston’s debut novel of “Red, White & Royal Blue” is a book many may find themselves judging by the cover. With the bright pink background and cartoon versions of the books two main characters – two male love interests – there can be quite the first impression.

The reader is first introduced to an alternate United States setting where there is a female president and her son, Alex Claremont-Diaz, is planning himself to be the youngest senator the country has ever seen soon enough.

McQuiston wrote the book following the 2016 presidential elections, with the target audience being young people who could identify with the LGBT community. The writing style highlights this as the dialogue is quick-witted and fitting of the generation we live in now.

This dialogue of the times is seen the most in Alex, as well as the music options the reader can see in some scenes. This including “Get Low” by Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz in a dancing scene.

As a part of this modern take on a romance novel, we see Alex’s love interest introduced as his enemy first, Prince Henry Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor.

The dynamic shown between two characters who essentially grew up in the politics of two different countries, and therefore the spotlight is an interesting one that romance books often do not showcase.

Both characters, having strong personalities in different ways, are brought together by a scandal and forced to be friends for the public … Which every reader familiar with any romance film or read knows where that is set to go.

McQuiston does a great job showing the reader Alex’s internal monologue and coming to terms with his sexuality at the same time he realizes his feelings for Henry. The scenes leading up to a coming out is a fresh take on a character having a “sexuality crisis” that does not always get represented in a relatable way to the media.

Arguably, one of the best parts of the novel, and what makes it such a breeze to read through, is the email and text exchanges between Alex and Henry.

Corresponding emails is an innovative way to show the development between these two characters, and even through how they write to one another, the reader can see just how full of personality each one is.

Maybe Henry’s use of British slang can come off a tad bit cringe, but it is something that can be looked past for the heartfelt and funny moments offered.

These moments are by no means slim, not just between both Henry and Alex as they form a budding relationship, but between their siblings and friends who the reader meets along the way.

Ultimately, if the overall premise of LGBT representation in a modern romance novel has not appealed to you alone, the tear-jerking ending has to.

Alex’s mother, who is running for president on her second term, leads to more political scandal for Alex and Henry’s relationship as their emails are linked and they are forced to come out to the public.

This with Alex’s impactful and emotional coming out speech, and Texas turning blue in the election, is sure to bring a special kind of feeling to any reader who takes it in. “Red, White & Royal Blue” is a gem of a book that sets a new precedent for romance novels in the modern age.

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