BOOKS

Alex & Eliza: A Love Story

368p. Putnam. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524739621. POP
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Gr 7 Up—With the popularity of the musical Hamilton still going strong, de la Cruz has struck while the iron is hot and shone a light on the extraordinary wife of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, Eliza Schuyler. The writings about Eliza are sparse, but the author puts that limited knowledge to good use and imbues her fictional version with a strong-willed and charming personality that will instantly have readers cheering for her. Though the research involved here is evident, the historical accuracy still ends up being a bit shaky. By focusing only on the initial courtship between Eliza and Alexander, de la Cruz turns Hamilton into something of a dashing white knight but never acknowledges the interest that existed between him and Eliza's sister Angelica—in fact, Angelica acts quite coldly toward him. This depiction is only enforced during an imagined arranged engagement between Eliza and another real-life figure named Henry Livingston that results in him drunkenly trying to take advantage of her the night before the wedding. This relationship never existed, and adding an attempted assault just so that Alexander can swoop in and save the day feels not only clichéd but irresponsible. The seeds of potential are peppered throughout the story, but they unfortunately become too overshadowed by unnecessary characterizations.
VERDICT Fans of the musical will be excited to see this novel, even though it plays fast and loose with the facts. Purchase only where Hamilton frenzy is still strong.

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