Title: Red, White & Royal Blue
Author: Casey McQuiston
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publishing Date: 2019
Genre/Format of the Item: Book
2020 Alex Award Winner
A Kirkus Best Book of 2019
A Library Journal Best Romance of 2019
One of NPR’s Favorite Books of 2019
A Vogue Best Novel of 2019
A Vanity Fair Best Book of 2019
Reading Level/Interest Level:
Adult (Amazon), but won the Alex Award in 2020
Plot Summary: Alex Claremont-Diaz was practically born into politics. The son of the first female President of the United States, Alex is now living in the White House and has his eyes set on becoming a young, activist politician. The “White House Trio” consists of Alex, his sister June, and their shared best friend Nora. Together they support, encourage, and party all over Washington, D.C. When Harry attends the Royal Wedding of Prince Philip in London, he comes face-to-face with his nemesis, Prince Henry. After ending up in the middle of the royal wedding cake, Prince Henry and Alex are forced play nice and pretend to be friends to quell the tabloids. Suddenly, Alex and Henry are texting and calling each other every day despite their determination to not get along. As their friendship grows, Alex and Harry begin to realize that they might not be so different after all.
After a shared kiss on New Year’s Eve, Alex is head over heels and caught in a sexual crisis. As Alex explores his new feelings for Henry, Alex’s mom is ramping up her reelection campaign for the coming year. Alex gets his dream job of working on her campaign and just might have everything he ever needed until it all comes crashing down around him. Photos are leaked and Buckingham Palace has severed communications with the First Family. Alex and Henry must find a way to tell the world that they belong together, but first they must convince the Queen. All the while, a scandal is threatening the President’s reelection plans. In a truly inspiring ending, Red, White & Blue is a romance of a lifetime.
Author Background: Casey McQuiston is the author of three books: Red, White & Royal Blue, One Last Stop, and I Kissed Sharon Wheeler (McQuiston, n.d.). McQuiston was raised in Louisiana but currently lives in New York City (Gutterman, 2021). In an interview with Gutteman, McQuiston relates how she decided to write queer novels because they were not available to her growing up (2021).
Critical Evaluations: I really enjoyed this book. It was engaging, fun, and had a lot of twists that kept me hoping for the best but unsure of the outcome. The writing has hints of vulgarity but this is language that many teenagers feel comfortable with and would not find offensive. I think that this book is best for teens 16 years and older. The premise is creative and not formulaic. I really like that Alex’s mom was the first female President of the United States. McQuiston gave depth to her characters but she also added humor and mild suspense to keep the story moving forward. I thought that McQuiston really pushed every stereotype and found a way for the United States to redeem itself (in this fairytale). Her choice of two very influential and famous protagonists made it really interesting but also added a bit of history and culture into the book as well. Overall, this was a great, easy read that is sure to attract many teens and adults alike.
Creative Use for a Library Program: Red, White, & Royal Blue would be a great book to have on display during a June Pride event. The library could host a Drag Queen Storytime and have a variety of LGBTQIA+ books on display with Red, White & Royal Blue highlighted as an Alex Award Winner. The library could also display Stonewall Award books and other books with LGBTQIA+ characters.
Speedround/Book Trailer: Alex, the son of the first female U.S. President and Prince Henry of Wales have a long standing rivalry that culminates in the crashing of a royal wedding cake. Forced friendship turns into a full blown love affair that leave Henry, Alex, and their families speechless. Full of love, wit, charm, and royal banter, Red, White & Royal Blue is sure to keep you on your toes and routing for the Royal/Presidential couple!
Potential Challenge Issues/Defense Preparations: This book may be challenged because of the language (some profanity and sexual explicit language) and because of the scenes portraying sex. I would defend this book as something that older teenagers might like and relate to. This book normalizes the relationship between two people (one gay man and one bisexual man) and that is important for many readers to see in books. I would argue that it won the Alex Award in 2020, as an adult book that could also be appropriate and liked by teenagers.
Reason for Inclusion: I included this book because I wanted to add in an adult crossover book and because the book challenged a lot of stereotypes and biases, including homosexuality and women in politics. The book was fun, witty, engaging, and something that I think older teens would really like.
Gutterman, A. (2021, May 26). Casey McQuiston Is Writing the Queer Rom-Coms She’s Always Wanted to Read. Time. https://time.com/6050860/casey-mcquiston-one-last-stop/
Mari. (2020, July 16). An Emotional Cake-Gate || Red, White, & Royal Blue Review. Story and Sonnomancy. https://storyandsomnomancy.com/2020/07/16/an-emotional-cake-gate-red-white-royal-blue-review/
McQuiston, C. (n.d.). About. https://www.caseymcquiston.com/books
Red, White, & Royal Blue on Prime [@RWRBonPrime]. (2022, June 21). ICYMI:#RWRBMovie is officially in production! You’re welcome. x [Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/RWRBonPrime?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1539352485315239936%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.seventeen.com%2Fcelebrity%2Fmovies-tv%2Fa40176774%2Famazon-prime-red-white-and-royal-blue%2F