Alex's old house key 

Alex’s old house key symbolizes Alex’s connection to his true self, rooted in who he was before fame and ambition began to define him. Alex has worn the house key around his neck since the day he left Texas for DC as a reminder of where he came from, connecting him to the boy he was before his mother became one of the most powerful people in the world. Throughout the novel, the key anchors Alex and helps him understand what he most wants. For example, he thinks of the key when he’s at the lake house, while he's pondering his future and on the verge of confessing his love to Henry. Realizing how alienated he is from the boy he was when he left Texas, he yearns to be more in touch with his roots and with the people he loves rather than being focused solely on drive and ambition. When his mother wins reelection, he leaves the big public celebration with the man he loves, and the novel ends as he’s about to unlock his childhood home. This emphasizes that Alex's journey is to sometimes pull back from the spotlight and return home to his true self. 

Henry's signet ring 

Henry’s signet ring symbolizes his family legacy. Signet rings have been worn by British royalty for centuries and have been used to sign official documents. As such, they hold within them the traditional power of the throne. Henry wears his ring constantly at the beginning of the novel. He's wearing it in the first picture that Alex posts of them together on Instagram, signifying the public role they are both playing in performing a fake friendship for the press. When Alex confesses his love to Henry, Henry takes off his signet ring, and this is symbolic of him distancing himself both from the duty he has inherited and from the false public persona he’s created to satisfy his family. After Alex and Henry decide to be together, Henry gives Alex the ring. This illustrates that part of Henry’s commitment to Alex involves setting aside what is expected of him and following his heart. 


Texas represents Alex’s hope for change, both within himself and within his country. As his home state, Texas represents Alex’s roots. He’s fiercely protective of the state, as illustrated by his obsessive work with the Texas Binder to figure out the state’s gerrymandered electoral map and to empower Texans who have been left out of the electoral process. This reflects his hope that Texas, a traditionally red state, can become more progressive and inclusive. For Alex, this hope becomes even more personal when he realizes he’s bisexual, as he deeply wants Texas to embrace him. After Alex and Henry’s relationship is leaked to the press, Alex feels vulnerable when he faces his home state, afraid that Texas will reject him for his sexuality. In a sense, this reflects his desire to be welcomed home, just as he is, without performing for the media or being someone he isn’t. When Texas turns blue, it illustrates the state’s capacity for political progress. For Alex, it also means acceptance of how he’s changed, an acceptance that goes right down to his roots.