BWW Review: ALEX & ELIZA by Melissa De La Cruz
Did you miss our recent interview with ALEX & ELIZA author Melissa de la Cruz? Check it out now!!! It has all kinds of fun info, from Melissa's favorite Hamilton songs to the way she researched for her new novel to news about a sequel--yes, a sequel!!!!!
" 'He lacks a great fortune and has no name and no family,' reminded Angelica.
'Well,' said Peggy. 'We have name and family, if not fortune, enough for him, don't you think, Eliza?'
For once, Eliza had to agree with her sweet younger sister rather than her smart older one."
~From ALEX & ELIZA by Melissa de la Cruz
Anything about Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler is still super hot thanks to the success of the smash Broadway musical Hamilton. When word dropped that New York Times Best Selling Author Melissa de la Cruz was coming out with ALEX & ELIZA, a historical fiction novel that explored the duo's relationship before they were married, people freaked. When the cover was revealed, the excitement was fueled even further because the cover used a silhouette profiled the mirrored the silhouette approach the musical uses in all of its advertising. When the book released last month, it immediately debuted at #2 on the New York Times Best Sellers List.
Don't go into ALEX & ELIZA expecting a retelling of Hamilton. though. You won't get one. Instead, you get the story of how Alex and Eliza met. Eliza's father, General Philip Schuyler, is being court-martialed despite not being at Fort Ticonderoga when it fell. When it fell, the General also lost his country estate in Saratoga He had put a vast amount of his fortune into the house, and before he could reacquire it, the land was razed. Now, the Schuyler family isn't as rich as everyone believes, and they need to marry the eldest three daughters, Angelica, Elizabeth, and Margarita (Peggy). Catherine Schuyler decides to throw a ball and invite all the eligible men. Unfortunately, the day of the ball is also when Alexander Hamilton arrives to deliver the bad news about the General being court-martialed. Alex and Eliza meet already off on the wrong foot, and it isn't until two years later when Eliza joins her aunt in Morristown, New Jersey to help in the war effort and inoculate soldiers against smallpox that the two meet again. Alex has never been able to shake Eliza from his head and hopes that this time around, he can make amends. Eliza, on the other hand, still wants nothing to do with him, especially since her family would never approve. But she finds herself thinking about Alex more and more...
Granted, some artistic license was definitely taken in order to give the story more twists and turns, but de la Cruz also peppered the book with her favorite real-life moments from their courtship, such as the locket Eliza wore with a piece of poem that Alex wrote her and the way Alex forgot the password to the fort after an evening with Eliza. Those moments are still there, and still precious.
I really loved that the book flipped between both Alex's and Eliza's perspectives. I loved seeing Alex interact with the soldiers, and I also loved seeing Eliza hold her own as she began to become her own person. In Hamilton, Eliza is very much to the side and we don't know that much about her until much later in life. In ALEX & ELIZA, we see how much she does for the war effort and how close she is to her sisters and her family.
There were times that there were little nods to the musical in terms of phrasing, but some of this also comes from the fact that both mediums were flavored by the letters Alex wrote that are still accessible today. Hamilton fans may be sad to find that Angelica is never attracted to Alexander and is intent on her own courtship. In fact,this is one place where the musical messed with the timeline of events in order to bring more drama to the show. It was nice to see Peggy in her own courtship and find out a bit of what made her tick. These are moments that just don't get explored in the musical. The book can be slow-moving at times, but all the extra tidbits sprinkled throughout expanding the lives of these people was very much appreciated and worth it. After I finished reading, I had to look up information about various characters to see if things happened or not...which is also what I did after falling for Hamilton, so de la Cruz did make it so readers will care about these people and want to know more about them and their lives!
ALEX & ELIZA ended in a way I wasn't expecting, and it made me hope that the author would return to the world. Publisher's Weekly recently announced that a sequel entitled LOVE & WAR: An Alex and Eliza Story will debut in Spring 2018! When you finish ALEX & ELIZA, you'll know where the sequel is headed!
ALEX AND ELIZA by Melissa de la Cruz was published by Penguin / G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on April 11, 2017.