Dre is out and vocal about his political opinions. Dean is not and keeps most of his personal opinions separate from his public life. When an incident leaves them alone in a room together, they begin to connect over their shared experience of being the child of a candidate. They begin to message each other following that, and they find that their friendship could blossom into something even better- if politics don't get in the way.
What I loved: Dean and Dre are highly likable characters who seemed fully developed. It was easy to fall in love with them and cheer for their relationship. The romance is slow-building but really strong, and they developed a great relationship throughout the story. The star-crossed nature of the romance only added to the appeal. Their banter and chemistry leaps off the pages.
The political discussions are inevitable in the book, and it was interesting to see so many sides- Democrat, Republican, and those in between on a diversity of issues. There are some valid points about disagreeing with someone you love and yet still caring for them anyway (parent-wise), as well as a lot of discussions about LGBTQ+ rights that were woven into the story well. The ultimate relationships with parents are loving and that was also really lovely to see (at least for the main characters - there's some mentions of 'conversion therapy' threats for a secondary character). The book also takes care to explain some concepts (aro/ace, drag) that readers may or may not be familiar with, and these were really well and carefully done.
Final verdict: Highly engaging and thought-provoking, THE STATE OF US is a star-crossed YA contemporary romance that is completely devourable. Highly recommend for fans of RED, WHITE, AND ROYAL BLUE, ONLY MOSTLY DEVASTATED, and WE CONTAIN MULTITUDES.