I read anything Hamilton related. I devoured the 2004 Ron Chernow Biography long before Lin-Manual Miranda thought of writing the musical. I wrote essays on Hamilton throughout high school before falling in love with the musical in college.
Excitement is a poor word to use for describing my feelings about Hamilton. I adore this founding father with an undiluted passion. And I eagerly awaited the release of a new YA novel on the relationship of Alexandra Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler.
Alex and Eliza, A Love Story was released just this spring. And I snatched up a copy at Half-Price Books, reading it in just one day. I meant to spread the book out, but so much for good intentions
This book is certainly young adult. The cover is gorgeous, the writing simple, and the POV’s third person.
The prologue introduces readers to the Schuyler family and their impending financial problems. It deftly weaves historical fact – Mrs. Schuyler has lots of children, with historical tragedy, three children died as infants.
And finally, the first chapter introduces Alex. A young officer, visiting the Schuylers as the bearer of bad news.
From there, we’re swept up into the story of Alex and Eliza.
What I loved:
Descriptions. The book is layered with details of colonial life and the revolution. It’s not overbearing, but the details add depth to the story. This romance took place a long time ago, in a culture very different from our own. But it feels familiar.
Alex and Eliza’s questions
Both Alex and Eliza have doubts about themselves. Alex isn’t sure he’s good enough for Eliza and her family. Eliza isn’t certain of Alex and her own feelings. Melissa De La Cruz expertly weaves in the social expectations alongside the characters’ own faults.
I felt heartsick for Alex. He’s an orphan and penniless compared to Eliza and her friends. He does have reasons to doubt himself. His thoughts and actions are realistic and add depth to his character development.
Alex’s friends and Eliza’s sisters
Laurens and Lafayette. I’m so thrilled to see these two in the story. They’re hilarious, flirtatious, and obviously, amazing friends. I love the teasing banter woven throughout their time together, alongside the more serious talk of war and death.
Angelica and Peggy add a fun flair for the story. All three sisters are on the verge of matrimony, but each have a different take on finding a husband. Unlike the musical, none of the sisters are overlooked. We get to know each of their suitors and understand why they’re attracted to each other.
I suppose it made sense to introduce Eliza and Alex’s first meeting, only to skip to their actual short courtship two years later. But that time jump was unsettling. It left a lot of questions. What happened for two years? Why didn’t they meet? And we know Eliza turned down Major Andre, so can we have more details on that?
Family and Forced Marriages
Without spoiling too much, the idea of forced marriage didn’t mesh with the story. This felt like a betrayal of the Schuyler family’s characters, especially Angelica and Eliza’s aunt. I also felt as though the story carried several plot holes near the end.
Perhaps, it’s just because I’m a history nerd. But I desperately wanted the author to follow the rabbit trails she hints at. Major Andre worked with Benedict Arnold, and courted Eliza. Hamilton is given a battlefield command, but there’s no follow up. And Laurens rushes to South Carolina, but we’re left hanging about his fate.
This was a sweet, fun read. I wanted more of Alex and Eliza together, more of the tender letters he wrote. Even another conversation.
Hamilton’s letters to Eliza are famous. The author only includes one letter, at the very beginning of the book. I was disappointed that Hamilton’s writing weren’t showcased more. Hamilton isn’t Hamilton without his writing, adding more of his correspondence with Eliza would have created another layer for the story.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was a sweet introduction to Alex and Eliza’s relationship.