Thursday, April 27, 2017

Alex & Eliza (review)

*This post contains affiliate links that I may make commission from; however, all opinions are my own*

Raise your hand if you love a good Young Adult story? Raise the other hand if you are obsessed with all things Hamilton? Now that you have both hands up you should do the hokey pokey and whip out your credit card.

Alex & Eliza - Melissa De La Cruz
Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.

1777. Albany, New York. 

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball. 

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

I will be the first to tell you that I have not gotten on the Hamilton train because I'm not a theater lover like most of my friends and I never totally got into American history when I was in high school and only vaguely find it interesting now. Which probably makes me one of the worst people to review this book because I'm coming into this not with all of that excitement but more of a, "this better not suck" perspective. 

Which is really what makes me a GREAT person to review this because guess what? This didn't suck! It was actually really great and it makes me want to be on the Hamilton train but I'm super poor so that probably won't happen. But this was such an endearing love story and so appropriate because we're living in a time where boys and young men are almost encouraged to be absolute jerks in the pursuit of a girlfriend and young women are discouraged from telling the boy where to go and how to get there. Enter Eliza, she's no shrinking violet and she isn't going to be married off to just whoever because her parents are in a tough spot financially. She knows her worth, she isn't willing to settle for anything less than a love story and if that leaves her a spinster aunt, so be it. But she wants to be more, do more, and she knows she deserves it. Even if society doesn't get that yet. She's a gal born into the wrong time period. 

Enter Alex, a boy who has nothing to offer a woman like Eliza, he has no tremendous wealth or family name, but he has earned himself quite the reputation working under George Washington. Men look up to him and he has bright visions for the future of America, but he adores Eliza. He doesn't know what he has to do to win her over but he's going to give it everything he has. 

I have to tell you that if you want to get a kid interested in American history, you have to present it to them in a way that is exciting and fun. That is what the musical is doing and that's what this book is going to do. Get this into the hands of some high school kids who are struggling and ask them to draw comparisons of gender roles from the 1770's and now. And having not seen the musical myself, and only reading quick descriptions of that story line, the book and musical are very different. While the musical explores Hamilton's role in American history, the book focuses more on the love story of Alex and Eliza. We see more of Eliza before she met Alex, her ambitions, and how they came together. And while there isn't a lot of information in history books about their courtship and life before their marriage, the author does a really good job taking those liberties and giving us a story that feels like it would have been pretty darn accurate and I think, pairs well with an audience's expectations after being in love with the musical. 

Overall? I'm giving this 4 out of 5 stars. I can't totally give it 5 only because I started and stopped this book so many times and I had a hard time getting into it because historical romance (even the YA version) is just not my thing. But I had to give it some extra points because it actually makes me wish I could see the musical while on Broadway so bravo to the author! 

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