I have never been a big fan of historical fiction, but I am a big fan of “Hamilton.” So, that fascination led me to Alex & Eliza (Penguin Young Readers Group, 2017) by Melissa De La Cruz. When I heard that a second book was coming out this spring, I knew I had to read it.
Love & War: An Alex & Eliza Story (Penguin Young Readers Group, 2018) chronicles Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler’s early marriage, starting out as a young couple living in (newly established) New York City with the ever-present perils of war, while simultaneously living in a country on the brink of freedom. After the war, Alexander is working to establish himself as a lawyer and Elizabeth is trying to establish herself as a woman fit for New York society.
Like most couples, Alex and Eliza – both the real and the fictional versions – had their ups and downs. I think no matter how old you are, everyone wants to believe in the fairy tale, in the couple that survives against adversity and whose love prevails. And, at least in this book, the fairy tale continues, with some bumps along the way.
Apparently, there are going to be additional books in this series. I don’t necessarily think you have to have read the first book to read the second one, as the characters are explained and their connections established in the second book as well as the first. It is helpful, though, to know a bit of history so you can decipher between the factual and the dramatic elements of the story.
As a caveat, I should say that these are technically young adult books. However, since books like The Fault in Our Stars (Penguin Books, John Green, 2012) and others have garnered acclaim from people of all ages, the distinction between adult fiction and young adult fiction has become a non-issue. These books read more like romance novels than they do what I traditionally think of as young adult books. If you’re looking for a fun read that has the intrigue of history, I highly recommend Alex & Eliza and Love & War.
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While learning about the history of this country from the beginning, it makes me think of my own family. I am always amazed at the realization that my grandparents were the only members of their immediate families who were born in America. Their parents and siblings were born elsewhere and narrowly escaped religious persecution, risking everything to start anew in a country that by that time had been around for about 150 years. But I digress. Alexander Hamilton’s story is not so different. He was born in the British West Indies, came to America at a young age and ultimately fought for America’s freedom from British rule.
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I’m super excited to say that my fascination with “Hamilton” will be further placated this summer when I get to see the musical in Chicago. Stay tuned for more on that!
For now, check out Love & War.