I just finished Red, white and royal blue and I surprisingly enjoyed it! Here’s the blurb
“When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.
Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.”
Here’s what I thought…Let me start off by saying my queer friend Mckinlay recommended this book on her instagram and I told her I was interested in reading it. She loved it more than Harry Potter she says and even got a tattoo for it.So of course I said I want to read it if you love it that much. BUT she said she was worried it wasn’t my kind of book. She didn’t say this in a judgmental way at all but out of knowing what kinds of books I enjoy most. It makes sense. On paper I shouldn’t enjoy this book. It has a LOT of things in it that I usually avoid reading or don’t enjoy reading about. I’m very much an escapist reader. I want out of the real world and all the real life bullshit it entails. Mckinlay had enough faith in the book and in me to send me a copy as a gift and said she won’t hate me if I don’t enjoy it. Lol True friends.
Anyway, There’s so much in this book I usually would hate. I don’t like reading about politics. Everyone hates politics right? I’m conservative in nature but not the huge bigot asshole kind you often see in the media. This book revolves around a very democratic family. Also I’m a straight white woman. I don’t usually read many queer books because I find I simply don’t have an interest or feel I’d relate to it. I’ve read plenty with queer characters as side characters or even a main character that are bi-sexual (HELLO MIA CORVERE) but nothing that was an own voice book. I have never in fact read a gay or M/M book. I also prefer fantasy and fake worlds with lots of magic in them over contemporary. I also read romance but not many contemporary romances and never a contemporary, political, queer romance. I feel like a lot of books like this I’ve tried to read are strictly against who I am, yet scream for acceptance. Because I am a white, straight woman I must have had an easy life compared to everyone else and I need to bow down to everyone else kind of bullshit. So frankly I avoid them because my demons are much darker than anyone ever truly knows.
SO in theory I should hate this book, just like Mckinlay feared. BUT in fact I really enjoyed it. This book is everything I usually don’t go for but everything I needed. I feel I understand a community better that I’m not a part of but support. This book is definitely political but it isn’t name calling, stereotyping bullshit. It’s people saying they are fighting for THE PEOPLE and I believe in that. Nobody in the book calls republicans awful names or lumps them into the awful human beings category. This book is about discovery, family, love, acceptance, and bravery. It’s about the people as a nation and as a world coming together to fight for what’s right and what’s meaningful. I laughed, I cried, and I felt like my views were expanding in a very hopeful way. This book has gay sex, but it doesn’t make it gross or anything I thought it would be. I found myself not only rooting for them but turned on by their escapades. It’s so loving and pure. The boys relationship reminds me of myself after being abused, divorced and rebuilding myself as a single parent and falling all over again for my now husband. It’s pure and honest and nothing anyone says will stop it. This isn’t the typical royals romance either, the families deal with a different battle yet the same battles. It’s about choosing their own way but also about ending the bullshit from higher up and the church. This book is a teaching tool about love and acceptance. It has soooooo much diversity yet it doesn’t stereotype the people who aren’t as diverse as them. It talks about all kinds of relationships, not just romantic ones and it talks about forgiveness and change. It deals with grief and depression but it does all this with tact and empathy while still having good pacing for the story. These characters are rich, well written, fully developed and so raw and real in a way most characters will never be.
I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone wanting a good queer read, or anyone wanting to expand their views and learn from these characters that may be very much like themselves or very different from themselves. I’m so grateful that my friend sent me this book because I feel like we all kinda need to be Alex and Henry. Afraid, yet pushing forward because it’s what’s right and no amount of evil or hate will stop our love.
I sincerely hope that if you are skeptical but curious that you borrow this book from the library or a friend and at least give it a shot. I won’t say it’s for everyone because we all have our niche but I feel like this book could changes lives in the best ways.
**TRIGGER WARNINGS** mention death, cancer, almost sexual assault, but none of this is “on screen” and only mentioned, not gone into detail on.
I hope you enjoyed this review and I hope you pick up the book and try it out! Talk to you later – Bookish Mom