Alex and Eliza

Hamilton fans, the YA novel of your dreams is here. It’s not the next great American novel, and it takes a lot of liberty with history, but it’s ultimately a compelling read and sweet to the very end.  Melissa de la Cruz paints a picture of the Schuyler sister that looks much like that of the Bennet sisters, with the necessity of marriage hanging over the young women.

The story begins on the fateful night that Eliza and Colonel Hamilton meet, at a party/ball thrown by her parents to showcase their daughters and attract suitors. It doesn’t go quite like it goes in the musical. There’s an attraction, but she’s not instantly “Helpless” and there’s certainly no jealousy by Angelica that leaves her less than “Satisfied.” Then, we jump forward two years, the Revolutionary War is waging on, and their paths begin to cross again and again, less than coincidentally, you’ll find out, and it is time for love to bloom. I’m not spoiling anything by telling you they end up together, am I?

The characters of Angelica, Eliza, and Schuyler don’t look like they do in the musical, so if you’re obsessed with Angelica, this might not be the book for you. Peggy is definitely a better character in the book than the musical, and you actually get a look into her life, including her love life, which was one of the most fascinating parts of the book for me. Eliza is a likeable character, if not a little hard-headed, and while I did get tired of her ignoring Hamilton’s obvious advancements, but it all worked out in the end. Some of the “additions” to the story, including a looming wedding to a scoundrel and a brush with Benedict Arnold fit the plot well but irked me a bit as a history connoisseur.  I understand why de la Cruz did it though, and ultimately I think those parts saved the novel from being a simple romance novel with characters from history.

Much of the criticism of this book called It “uninspired fanfiction to the musical” which I think is quite ignorant. Yes, de la Cruz was inspired to write this by the musical, but is not the musical fanfiction too? The events of the novel diverge so much from history and from the musical, which skips over their entire courtship in the course of one song, that you can barely see a likeness unless you’re attune to the names. This book does not dive into their relationship after their marriage, their children, the duels, his affair with Maria Reynolds, et cetera.

This isn’t the best book I ever read, but I was on a waiting list for it for several months, and ultimately I got what I was expecting. A YA Novel that was in fact a “love story” and was about Eliza Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton. It wasn’t exquisitely written and it’s not going to be anyone’s new favorite book, but it was entertaining to read and didn’t do any major affront to anyone.  If you like history and young adult novels, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more suitable read.

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