Photo Courtesy of Melissa De La Cruz
“Helpless! Look into your eyes, and the sky’s the limit I’m helpless! Down for the count, and I’m drownin’ in ‘em.”
Many teenagers today are a fan of the hit Broadway musical, “Hamilton,” and I am no exception. The storyline fascinated me, and when I saw the book “Alex and Eliza: A Love Story” by Melissa De La Cruz on the shelves at Barnes and Noble, I knew I had to check it out.
“Alex and Eliza” gives a fictitious account of the meeting and courtship between Alexander (Alex) Hamilton and Elizabeth (Eliza) Schuyler. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Revolution, the story goes from the meeting of these two historical figures to their marriage.
Eliza is a bright and practical young lady. She comes from two venerable bloodlines and was raised in the lap of luxury. Hamilton is the intelligent secretary to George Washington. He is the illegitimate child of a Scottish immigrant and has only risen to his station through his hard work and intellect. The two are able to connect through their passion for the American cause.
The two characters first meet at the Schuyler’s ball where Eliza’s mother is trying in vain to get her three older daughters married off to wealthy suitors. Eliza starts off with less than cordial feelings for the colonel. He is there to deliver some bad news to her father, and she is not afraid to let him know of her disapproval.
They end up living in the same small town during the winter months. Continuous accidental meetings and the conversations that follow help their feelings for each other to slowly grow. After several, weeks they realize how in love they are and that they want to spend the rest of their lives with each other.
The book was inspired by the musical. After seeing “Hamilton” with her family, Cruz’s daughter wanted to know more about the relationship between Alex and Eliza, prompting Cruz to do some research. That research turned into this book. It differs from the musical in some ways, the most notable being Eliza’s sister, Angelica’s, interactions with Hamilton. I enjoyed how it went into more detail about how Eliza and Alex met and got to know each other. The book also provides more insight into Eliza’s family. The reader gets to meet her parents and younger siblings as well as see the relationship with her sisters, Angelica and Peggy.
Cruz created strong main characters with firm opinions and ideals. My favorite was Eliza. I found her relatable as she is down to earth and prefers to live a life of simplicity and modesty. “Helpless” romantics will melt over Eliza’s willingness to give up her privileged lifestyle to be with Alex. Hamilton is hot headed, handsome and intelligent. He has a way with words that Cruz incorporates as a way for him to win over Eliza. Hamilton is willing to work hard in any and every situation whether it be strategizing for battle or wooing Eliza.
The story is told from the alternating points of view of Eliza and Alex. The reader gets a chance to see the feelings and thoughts of both main characters as they work through their relationship. The point of view often switches in the middle of key events to keep the reader hooked and provide a sense of dramatic irony.
Cruz uses vivid imagery to describe the setting of the story. She goes into detail about the homes and countryside which provide the backdrop for parties, romantic meetings and deep conversations. Cruz’s descriptions allow the reader to visualize the events and feel as if they are really there.
The story captivated me from beginning to end because it was amusing to watch how the characters change throughout the course of the book. There is a diverse mix of characters, all with different values, and I was always anxious to see what would happen when they were all thrown together. The relationships between each of the characters are all very distinct and added different elements such as humor and tension to the book. Cruz incorporates major events of the Revolutionary War into the storyline, so this book is great for American history lovers too.
The book was enjoyable, but also predictable.There are not any major plot twists. The reader knows Alex will always be there to rescue Eliza, and and they will end up together in the end. The plotline is fairly basic-the two meet, get to know each other and fall in love. Despite the predictability, I still found the book enjoyable. I enjoyed seeing all of the details and feelings behind Alex and Eliza’s relationship.
This historical fiction love story leaves readers daydreaming about one of the most romantic love stories in American history.