Love & War: An Alex & Eliza Story

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Love & War: An Alex & Eliza Story Book Poster Image
Hamilton's early married life lacks romance-history balance.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Historical facts blended with fiction. Author's note at end explains which parts are based on records, which are imagined. Life in New York (Manhattan and upstate) at end of Revolutionary War. Short nonfiction chapter explains some of the events, important issues of postwar period. Characters talk about issues like whether there should be a centralized government, how to handle property that the British government took from revolutionaries and gave to loyalists. Lots of modern language like "wow factor" and "fashion show."

Positive Messages

The newly liberated states should unify under a central government. But they can only do so if people accept that we're all Americans now, even people who were loyal to the crown during the war, and learn how to celebrate and respect each other's differences. There will always be disagreements, but there's no reason not to argue and disagree respectfully.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Alex and Eliza model a loving relationship of equal partners. Even when she's frustrated or disappointed by their time apart, she tries to be patient and understanding. While still living with her parents and siblings, she's helpful and supportive, especially when a new baby sister comes along. Alex is an adoring, affectionate husband who gets caught up working long hours establishing a career and what he hopes will be a new, unified nation at the same time. There's some brief discussion about hoping slavery can be ended someday, but no characters of color.

Violence

Wartime talk of guns, sabers, bullets, battles, deaths. Alex's part in the battle of Yorktown is narrated without gore. An enemy throws an ax at Eliza.

Sex

Some passionate kisses with brief details, like on the mouth, neck, and décolletage. An excerpt from a love letter mentions caresses and being in Eliza's bosom. Mention of undressing and getting into bed. Breasts mentioned in describing clothing. Mild sexual innuendo like doing "anything" in exchange for help or making her "pay for that quip all night long."

Language

Mild sexual innuendo like "pitching hay."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A minor character shows symptoms of alcoholism and drinks whiskey heavily. Adults drink mostly wine and beer on social occasions. Eliza's mother drinks lots of brandy during labor. Commanders drink a shot of whiskey before going into battle. An important story element involves running a tavern and brewery.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Love & War: An Alex & Eliza Story is the second installment in veteran author Melissa de la Cruz's series about the relationship between Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler. Reading the first book isn't necessary to follow the events, but it would help deepen understanding of the characters. There's not as much romance as in the first book, but there are some passionate kisses and mild sexual innuendo. War is talked about, including mentions of deaths, and events at Yorktown are briefly described without gore. Alex and Eliza model a loving relationship of equal partners, and both are dedicated, loyal, and supportive. Positive messages include creating a nation that's unified while celebrating differences. A minor character drinks heavily and has symptoms of alcoholism, and there's mention of adults drinking wine, beer, and hard liquor mostly in social situations. An important story element involves running a tavern and brewery.

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What's the story?

LOVE & WAR imagines the early married life of founding power couple Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler. The Revolutionary War may be winding down, but duty keeps Alex not just from spending time with his bride, Eliza, but from settling into a home of their own. So Eliza stays on at The Pastures, her parents' upstate New York manor, while Alex continues trying to make a name for himself as a battle commander. Eventually the war ends, and the couple excitedly sets up house in a fashionable area of Manhattan. But in the aftermath of war, the island is a chaotic, half-empty shell of its former self. The need of an income, and the demands of creating a new government now that Britain is gone, keep Alex away from home most of the time. This leaves Eliza to find her own way in a strange new city. How can the young couple forge a relationship and a nation at the same time?

Is it any good?

Romance takes a back seat in this second installment that doesn't quite find the balance to fully satisfy romance fans or history buffs. Love & War is about a time in the young couple's life just after they're married when either war or economic necessity means they spend a lot of time apart. So readers who aren't fans of both romance and history may get impatient waiting to get back to the parts they find most interesting. By the end we start to see how Alex and Eliza will find balance in their lives and love, so fans of America's trendiest founding power couple will look forward to the promised third installment of their story.

The focus on the couple's early married life means that, although there's no content of concern for tweens and up, it's probably best suited to big fans of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton anxious to explore more details about Alex and Eliza's story, and to history-minded teens wondering about starting a life of their own.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Love & War: An Alex & Eliza Story blends fact and fiction. Is that OK, or should authors stick to either fact or fiction? Why?

  • Did you read the first book in the series? Which do you like better? Why?

  • How does learning about the past help us understand our lives today? Why should we learn about history?

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